The Malta Independent 19 June 2021, Saturday

Dolphins and whales studied in Maltese waters as part of our biodiversity

Monday, 17 May 2021, 12:21 Last update: about 2 months ago

The 22nd of May is the International Day for Biological Diversity, and this year's message emphasises that we are part of the solution for nature conservation. Knowledge and appropriate actions go hand in hand toward the most effective safeguard of biodiversity.

Just as we enjoy seeing dolphins jump out of the sea to breathe and play, we need to remember their survival needs and the needs of all the other marine life they represent. Biodiversity forms an essential living network of life, providing services essential to this planet.


For those of us who need to think about things from a financial standpoint, consider the recent results of a prominent economist's appraisal of a whale's economic value. You might be astonished to learn that it amounted to at least $2 million in ecological services. Furthermore, due to its extended life span, a single whale may trap the carbon dioxide equivalent of 1500 trees, significantly reducing the causes of climate change!

Though dolphins and whales (cetaceans) may be far from sight and our minds in our daily routines, we need to consider their survival and contribution seriously.

Prof Adriana Vella and her Conservation Biology Research Group at the Department of Biology, University of Malta have contributed to developing scientific knowledge on local and Mediterranean dolphins and whales. This information is vital for their conservation.

The recently released special issue, in the peer reviewed journal Aquatic Conservation, focusing on the endangered Mediterranean Delphinus delphis is another vital contribution to this region's conservation.

As part of this long-term cetacean and marine biodiversity research, Prof Adriana Vella has also collaborated with various local stakeholders, including the AFM, fishers, interested sea-users, BICREF ngo and Transport Malta - the maritime section which have all encouraged the long-term nation of this research.

In particular, Transport Malta has also regularly issued the Notice to Mariners - No 031 of 2021 to aid this process. 

All interested persons may forward sightings of dolphins and whales to Prof Adriana Vella by contacting her on: [email protected]


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