Killer whales spotted for the first time in the Strait of Messina

A six-ton ​​orca jumps effortlessly on the surface of the water (Photo illustration). – Ken Rea / Solent News / SIPA

Three orcas were sighted this weekend in the Strait of Messina, located between Sicily and Italy. This would be the same group as the one observed a few days ago off the port of Genoa (north-western Italy), according to a Facebook post from the Marecamp association on Sunday.

The three mammals would therefore have traveled “800 km in a week”, according to Clara Monaco, marine biologist of the association. The presence of these endangered animals in this strait is a “first”.

Risk of collision with ships

It is a 25-year-old sport fisherman who saw them and approached them this Friday while he was sailing on a boat. “I was first afraid because they are huge animals,” says Simone Vartuli. “But I stayed with them for almost an hour and ended up being very close, about a yard. “

“We do not know if they went down to Sicily to find food or to go then to the Strait of Gibraltar, then the ocean and Iceland”, clarifies Clara Monaco. Their presence in the strait is problematic because of “the significant maritime traffic in this area and therefore the risk of collision with ships. “

Many endangered species in the Mediterranean

The biologist recalls that it is important not to get too close to these animals, which are “very stressed” in nature. “If someone sees them, he must immediately warn the coast guard” so that the association can collect scientific information, she adds.

Orcas are found in all oceans and seas on the planet, but generally prefer colder regions. The Mediterranean is home to eleven species of cetaceans, including orcas, fin whales, sperm whales and bottlenose dolphins, all considered vulnerable species. Accidental fishing, tourist pressure, noise generated by oil prospecting and maritime traffic are all threats to these species.