The “Pelagos" Cetacean Sanctuary 0 Comments

The “Pelagos" Cetacean Sanctuary

As we had already anticipated in the article of Prince Torco and the strait of Bonifacio, in the Strait of Bonifacio there is the “Pelagos" Cetacean Sanctuary , a marine area of ​​87,500 km² which was born from a 1991 agreement between Italy, the Monaco Principality and France, for the protection of the marine mammals living there.

It is a marine area very rich in biodiversity. There are about 8,500 species of microscopic animals, being between 4% and 18% of the world's marine species. In this area there is a large concentration of cetaceans, because it is a rich area where the food chain is guaranteed. We've always known that "big fish eats little fish" and that's exactly what the marine food chain is based on.

As the Breton artist Emmanuel Chapalain beautifully decorated the road paving of Via del Molo in Porto Rotondo, the food chain of the marine ecosystem has the first step occupied by aquatic plants, algae and some bacteria capable of photosynthesis.

In the second step we have plankton, or zooplankton, which includes krill, small shrimps, jellyfish, barnacles, molluscs and some fish larvae. They feed exclusively on algae and microorganisms. Among the larger herbivores we find surgeon fish and parrot fish, but also green turtles and manatees.

The third step is occupied by herring and sardines, which feed on plankton; crabs, which feed on small molluscs; most of the fish that populate the marine environment, which feed on molluscs and small crustaceans.

At the top of the food chain are the large predators, omnivores feeding on other fish. In the Sanctuary you can meet bottlenose dolphins, large dolphins and striped dolphins, small dolphins in numerous schools, pilot whales and Risso's dolphins (always in groups), and it is not uncommon to meet Mediterranean fin whales (second in size only to the common fin whale) and sperm whales or cachalot.

The "Pelagos" Cetacean Sanctuary was in fact created to protect marine mammals of all species and their habitats, protecting them from the direct or indirect negative impacts of human activities, being a "large ecosystem" of considerable scientific interest, socio-economic, cultural and educational.

The threats to the Sanctuary coming from human activities is mainly from commercial shipping traffic: 12 km in length where over 3,000 ships with loads of chemicals, oil, gas and other products pass every year in addition to the numerous Italian and French line ferries. In international waters, 12 miles from the coast, sewage of all kinds is poured into the open sea, a further threat to the Sanctuary.

The Port Authority of La Maddalena is in charge of controlling the safe traffic of commercial shipping. The Straits of Bonifaciothey say from the National Park are one of the most risky places in the world from a nautical point of view, as well as one of the most delicate ecosystems in the Mediterranean and we cannot continue gambling with nature and good fate. Demanding that our islands are protected from the risk of environmental catastrophes is a duty, as well as a right, of all of us".


“All whales in a group sing the same song at the same time; no whale seems to have the creative force to stand out and sing a single tune. Instead, it is as if all the whales are part of a group of gospel singers, singing in chorus.” (Marc Hauser, Wild Minds, 2000)


Written by Daniela Toti

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