The Greek branches of Greenpeace and WWF and a number of marine life protection organizations have sounded alarm as three whales stranded on the island of Corfu in the Ionian Sea. The incident took place in the last few days and it coincides with the operation of the seismic research vessel SW Cook in the area.
Fifteen environmental organizations are calling for the end of the ongoing seismic surveys aiming to detect oil and natural gas in the area as they link them directly to the disorientation of marine mammals warning of huge damages to the marine life.
Ο εκκωφαντικός θόρυβος έχει δραματικές επιπτώσεις στα κητώδη, ειδικά όταν προέρχεται από σεισμικές έρευνες ή από τη χρήση στρατιωτικού σόναρ: απώλεια ακουστικής ευαισθησίας, προσωρινό ή μόνιμο τραύμα, αλλαγή συμπεριφοράς, αύξηση στρες, εκβρασμό ή ακόμα και θάνατος. pic.twitter.com/tFRcbCJ44I
— WWF Greece (@WWFGreece) February 22, 2022
The Ionian Sea is home of the Zifios whales since thousands of years. Marine life Protection organizations are concerned that more mammals are stranded and possibly died without anyone noticing.
On Wednesday, members of the Greenpeace launched a protest on the NGO’s vessel Rainbow Warrior off the island of Corfu in the Ionian Sea.
⚠️ ΣΥΜΒΑΙΝΕΙ ΤΩΡΑ! ⚠️
Αυτή τη στιγμή, ακτιβιστές μας βρίσκονται σε ειρηνική διαμαρτυρία στο #Ιόνιο, ανοιχτά της Κέρκυρας, με το πλοίο @gp_warrior, και απαιτούν την οριστική διακοπή των σεισμικών εκρήξεων στην περιοχή και την ακύρωση των σχεδίων για εξορύξεις στην #Ελλάδα!#ΕΛΠΕ pic.twitter.com/fZVWBy650q
— Greenpeace Greece (@greenpeace_gr) February 23, 2022
The first two whales -Ziphius cavirostris- stranded in the shallow waters of Arillas and Agios Gordios on the NW and SW of Corfu on Sunday, a third one stranded on Agios Gordios a day later.
Volunteers and rescuers from the marine life protection NGOs as well as locals who had spotted the mammal helped them return to the deep sea.
Mobilized was also the Ministry of Environment and Energy, while specialized veterinarians of the Hellenic Center for Marine Mammal Rescue and Care “Arion” and the Institute of Marine Protection “Archipelagos” rushed to the spot to examine the animals and take blood samples for laboratory analysis.
End good, all good?
Definitely not. The whales were “clinically healthy” but why were they stranded? The whales had similar symptoms and were heavily disoriented. Marine protection NGOs blame the seismic research in the area and the intense underwater noise caused by the navy sonar frequencies
According to a statement issued by “Archipelagos“:
In no case can it be considered a coincidence that, on the same day, the two whales were found on the shores of Corfu at a short distance (approximately 25 km)” seismic surveys were carried out by the seismographic ship SW Cook, that has been active in the area since the beginning of February.
“Based on international experience with numerous cases of stranded species, it is widely accepted that the main threat to Zifi is intense underwater noise, either from specific navy sonar frequencies or from strong “sound bursts” caused by seismic surveys.
This sudden and intense noise pollution pushes the Zifios to abruptly emerge from the deep waters, causing them symptoms similar to those seen in divers, with the frequent result of their death.”
On the day the whales stranded the SW Cook followed a northern route from Kefalonia to Corfu and then made a 180-degree reversal in the middle of Corfu, near the area where the whales’ eruptions took place, Archipelagos denounced..
Throughout this course to this day – a day later (February 21,- the ship maintains a constant speed of 4 miles, so it continues uninterruptedly the loud sound explosions.
At the same time, a second seismic ship, the Norwegian Geo Barents, was also sailing in international waters off Corfu, off the coast of Albania to southern Italy, but it is not yet known if and in which areas it used its seismographic equipment, the NGO noted.
Η "ναυμαχία" μεταξύ του ερευνητικού σκάφους SW COOK των ΕΛΠΕ και του RAINBOW WORRIER της #Greenpeace έχει αρχίσει. Μπορεί τα δύο σκάφη να έχουν απόσταση στα 9,5 ναυτικά μίλια μεταξύ τους όμως είναι σαφές ότι το Rainbow επηρεάζει τις τελευταίες ώρες την πορεία του ερευνητικού. pic.twitter.com/sFDnS3EDHV
— Nicos Triantis (@NTriantis) February 23, 2022