Transparent utfyllnad Protection of marine mammals
By Filipe Alves
Tracking Sperm Whales off Madeira.
Photo: Filipe Alves, Madeira.
Today, the protection of marine mammals is of prime importance in the territorial waters (ZEE) of the Madeira archipelago. Therefore, since 1996 by the new direction of Dr. Luís Freitas, the Museum integrated a team of marine biologists with the aim of increasing the scientific knowledgement of the cetaceans ihnabiting the Madeiran waters:

1996 up to date – it was created a stranding network, allowing to perform post-mortem exams with the help of a veterinary, in order to determine the causes of death and how anthropogenic effects can be responsible.

1997 up to date – a photo-identification study, first based on opportunistic sightings and since 2001 based on direct sea effort, of three target species: Bottlenose Dolphin (Tursiops truncatus), Short-finned Pilot Whale (Globicephala macrorhynchus) and Sperm Whale (Physeter macrocephalus). A compilation of a catalogue based on the dorsal fin or the fluke, allows the identification of each individual, matches, population structure, abundances, and if there are resident populations (annual or seasonal).

2000 to 2004 – "Project for the Conservation of the cetaceans in the Archipelago of Madeira" funded by LIFE99 NAT/P/006432. See more at:
The objectives of this Project were to:
» List the species of the cetaceans using the Madeiran waters, as well as, to determine its conservation status, indices of abundances, distribution and sazonality, using nautical and aerial census;
» Determine the impact of whale- and dolphin-watching activities on the cetaceans populations in Madeira Island, using powerfull binocles and a digital teodolite from land stations, and accompanying the activity in situ;
» Sensibilization of the Madeiran population for the conservation of the cetaceans, with special care for inorganic wastes. Visits to all schools of Madeira were made for education purposes;
» Sensibilization of the whale- and dolphin-watching operators with workshops and with the creation of voluntary guidelines, as well as, the users of this activity so they may play an active role on the cetaceans conservation.
Scientist's from the Musea da Baleia group searching for cetaceans by boat and helicopter!
Photo: Filipe Alves, Madeira.

2003 to 2005 – "Project MACETUS" funded by EU-INTERREG IIIB program (MAC/42/M10). See more at:
The objectives of this Project were to:
» To study the genetic structure (collecting skin samples followed by genetic analysis), and the distribution and movements (using photo-id followed by catalogues comparison) of the Sperm Whale, Short-finned Pilot Whale, Bottlenose Dolphin and Atlantic Spotted Dolphin (Stenella frontalis);
» To study the habitat use of these cetaceans species within the Azores, Madeira and Canary Archipelagos, using suction-cup-attached time-depth recorder/VHF radio tags;
» To establish a Macaronesian Network for the Study and Conservation of the cetaceans.

2005 to 2006 – "Project GOLFINICHO" funded by FCT (POCI/BIA-BDE/61009/2004).
See more at:
The objectives of this Project were to:
» Determine whether trophic and/or spatial competition occurs between the Short-beaked Common Dolphin (Delphinus delphis) and the Atlantic Spotted Dolphin and to understand the meaning of poly-specific associations, by collecting biological samples followed by genetic and biochemical analyses, by using underwater video images of these species during feeding behaviour, and by using suction-cup-attached time-depth recorder/VHF radio tags.

Another Project, the "EMACETUS", which aim to study, monitorize and educate for the conservation of the cetaceans in the Madeira and the Canary Islands, is currently under the EU-INTERREG program appreciation.
   It is also important to highlight that a new building with approximately 5000m2 and four levels is actually being built in the village of Caniçal. It is expected to open to public during 2007, and will include two main exibition areas, one with the history of whaling in Madeira and other directionated to the biology, natural history and conservation of cetaceans, areas for expositions, conferences and education, as also laboratories to support scientific research.

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