Journal of Cetacean Research and Management (2003)


From 1991-2002 data on the presence and distribution of cetaceans in the Greek Seas have been systematically collated in a database (821 sightings and 715 strandings). Data originated from dedicated surveys, stranding reports, opportunistic sightings and published or unpublished photographic and video documents. Twelve cetacean species have been recorded. Seven of them are permanently present and commonly observed in one or more of the Greek Seas: striped dolphin, common bottlenose dolphin, short-beaked common dolphin, Cuvier’s beaked whale, sperm whale, Risso’s dolphin and fin whale. In addition, the harbour porpoise is present locally in the Thracian and northern Aegean Seas. The humpback whale, false killer whale and common minke whale are occasional Mediterranean species that were sighted or stranded infrequently; the Sowerby’s beaked whale is an accidental species that was found floating dead only once. Five other species (white whale, Blainville’s beaked whale, long-finned pilot whale, killer whale, blue whale) have been erroneously included in the Greek cetacean fauna in the past due to wrong assumptions, false identifications or lack of supporting evidence. The occasional occurrence of pilot and killer whales in the Greek Seas should still be regarded as unconfirmed. The distributional range, stranding numbers and sighting frequencies of sperm whales, Cuvier’s beaked whales and short-beaked common dolphins in the Greek Seas indicate that their local ‘sub-populations’ are among the most important in the entire Mediterranean Sea. Harbour porpoises in the Thracian and northern Aegean Seas are important from a conservation perspective since this species does not inhabit any other part of the Mediterranean Sea.