The Mediterranean Sea hosts a population of fin whale (Balaenoptera physalus), the only species of Mysticete regularly occurring in the basin. Observed and inferred mortality suggests that the population is likely declining. Accordingly, understanding the causes of mortality and assessing the health status is pivotal to the survival of this endangered population. While such studies are inherently difficult for a highly roaming species with a pelagic distribution, mortality events provide the opportunity to investigate biological and epidemiological traits linked to these events, and evaluate the footprint of human activity, especially when long-term data series exist. We present a comprehensive spatial–temporal overview of fin whale mortality events along the Italian coast encompassing four centuries (1624–2021). Time series analysis was used to highlight structural changes in the evolution of mortality through time, while spatial–temporal patterns in the distribution of mortality events were assessed through emerging hot spot analysis methods. Recent mortality events (1964–2021) were further explored to evaluate, where possible, the primary causes of mortality and to identify anthropogenic threats of conservation concerns. This long-term survey offers the basis for an understanding of the health status of this B. physalus population and provides much-needed information for developing an effective management and conservation plan for the species in the region.

Fin Whale (Balaenoptera physalus) Mortality along the Italian Coast between 1624 and 2021

Mancia, Annalaura
Ultimo
Conceptualization
2022

Abstract

The Mediterranean Sea hosts a population of fin whale (Balaenoptera physalus), the only species of Mysticete regularly occurring in the basin. Observed and inferred mortality suggests that the population is likely declining. Accordingly, understanding the causes of mortality and assessing the health status is pivotal to the survival of this endangered population. While such studies are inherently difficult for a highly roaming species with a pelagic distribution, mortality events provide the opportunity to investigate biological and epidemiological traits linked to these events, and evaluate the footprint of human activity, especially when long-term data series exist. We present a comprehensive spatial–temporal overview of fin whale mortality events along the Italian coast encompassing four centuries (1624–2021). Time series analysis was used to highlight structural changes in the evolution of mortality through time, while spatial–temporal patterns in the distribution of mortality events were assessed through emerging hot spot analysis methods. Recent mortality events (1964–2021) were further explored to evaluate, where possible, the primary causes of mortality and to identify anthropogenic threats of conservation concerns. This long-term survey offers the basis for an understanding of the health status of this B. physalus population and provides much-needed information for developing an effective management and conservation plan for the species in the region.
2022
Manfrini, Valerio; Pierantonio, Nino; Giuliani, Alessandro; De Pascalis, Federico; Maio, Nicola; Mancia, Annalaura
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Utilizza questo identificativo per citare o creare un link a questo documento: https://hdl.handle.net/11392/2507050
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