Introduction to our research
The data acquisition at firmm takes place during the Whale-Watching trips with our guests. Thereby we record relevant data of all sightings and observe the behaviour of the animals. So we can combine whale-watching and research and reduce the disturbance of the animals to a minimum. From the sheer amount of data, trends and correlations can be derived that are not immediately obvious:
- We document injuries. This helps to clarify the causes, which in future will again benefit the protection of whales.
- We record the sightings of rarely detected species. This allows to draw conclusions about biological diversity in the past.
- We photograph special characteristics of individual animals (photo identification). In this way we can study group membership.
Communication of our findings
At the conference of the European Cetacean Society 2007 we presented our findings on Pilot Whales and Fin Whales as Posters:
- Long-finned pilot whales in the Strait of Gibraltar (Michael Casanova, Matthias Tobler)
- Fin Whales of Gibraltar (Jörn Selling)
The results of the Fin Whale statistics of firmm also flowed into a textbook about the whales off Gibraltar. This textbook was the result of a workshop held in Algeciras in November 2008 and bears the title:
- Manual Didáctico: Para educadores ambientales especialistas en cetáceos del litoral del campo de Gibraltar.
At the conference of the ECS in Cádiz in March 2011 firmm presented the relationship of the Orcas to Pilot Whales and fishermen in the Strait of Gibraltar with a poster:
- Evolution of a unique and ambiguous relationship between Orcas, Pilot Whales and Tuna-fishermen in the Strait of Gibraltar (firmm-education).
A ferry line across the Pilot Whale area could be prevented with help of our data.
Thanks to the data of our long-term research we succeeded in 2011 in preventing a planned new ferry line from Tarifa to the new port of Tangier MED, which originally should ran across the Pilot Whale area.
At Planet Whale's "Whale Fest" in Brighton in October 2012, we wrote a report on the characteristics that an "ideal" whale watch ship should have.
Our work on injuries has been heard at the IWC.
Based on the many photos of injured or ill dolphins and whales, firmm's marine biologist wrote the following report in 2015:
- Preliminary Assessment of Epidermal Conditions, Lesions and Malformations in Cetaceans of the Strait of Gibraltar.
This report was presented in 2016 by our foundation board member Prof. Dr. Patricia Holm (University of Basel) to the scientific committee of the IWC. You can find a German summary under the subject Injuries.
Cooperation with firmm
Our database can be evaluated according to various criteria. If you are interested in a cooperation and evaluation of our data for your scientific work, please contact us.
On the following pages you can read what we have learned about the whales and dolphins of the Strait from our yearly observations and how the situation is evolving for the animals in this area.