The Scientific Interest Group for Marine Mammals in the Mediterranean (GIS3M) is organising a conference for the general public “From land to marine mammals: Journey of a piece of rubbish.” It is just one of the continued efforts of various Mediterranean scientific institutes in protecting these mammals, or cetaceans.

 

This conference forms part of the international research project “Biological and toxicological contamination of marine mammals in the Pelagos Sanctuary: evaluation, origin, monitoring and limitation.” In addition, it hopes to raise awareness on the vital role these animals play within the sea’s ecosystem.

 

Due to its semi-enclosed structure and highly urbanised coastline, the Mediterranean is considered to be one of the most polluted seas in the world. Poor management of waste, wastewater and mass tourism make this sea a reservoir of pollution, thus affecting the populations of large marine mammals that reside there.

 

The protection of the oceans is an issue which is deeply focused upon by the Prince Albert II Foundation, and celebrated yearly in Monaco Ocean Week.

 

A sanctuary for marine mammals

 

Located at the top of the food chain, these cetaceans are particularly sensitive to contaminants. Considered as the best ways of tracking the state of health of the marine environment, they also make it possible to apprehend the appearance of epidemics within sea species.

The main objective of this project is to assess and mitigate the impact of biological and chemical pollution on these mammals in the Pelagos Sanctuary. This is a marine area of 87,500 sq. km which France, Monaco and Italy have agreed to protect.

 

It will be a multidisciplinary project involving scientific institutions across the Mediterranean.

 

The Zooprophylactic Experimental Institute of Piedmont, Liguria and Valle d’Aosta, the Italian Reference Centre for Diagnostic Activities in Stranded Cetaceans, the Cetacean Study Group in the Mediterranean, the Departmental Veterinary Laboratory of Hérault, Vetagro Sup, and Monacologie are all involved.

 

The project provides new knowledge on emerging contaminants and helps to assess the risk they represent for cetaceans and their environment. In addition, this project studies the source of pollution affecting cetaceans, providing information to help authorities prevent and mitigate land-based pollution of the marine environment.

 

GIS3M is an organisation, created in 2007, with the purpose to support research and develop expertise in the protection and environmental management to preserve marine mammal populations in the Mediterranean.