‘To explore the potential of nature to improve the quality of life.’
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Solving the mystery of the stranded sperm whales
(Update 9 August 2016) We have reached the target for this research project! With the money that we have raised together, I can soon start with the project. But... the crowdfunding campaign goes on! We have untill the 1st of Oktober 2016 to raise as much money to expand this research project. In addition to the sperm whales that stranded in the beginning of 2016, I can also look at sperm whales that stranded in previous years. If I can study more sperm whales, the chance of finding a match will increase. If you have yet to make a donation, this is your chance! If you know people who would find this project interesting, please share it on Facebook, or show them this website!
In the beginning of 2016 nearly 30 sperm whales stranded on beaches around the North Sea. With this project we aim to find out where these animals came from. This information is necessary to identify possible causes for these strandings. We will use photo identification as a method to find out where these sperm whales came from. Sperm whales can be identified individually by analyzing their flukes. By collecting photos of sperm whale flukes from all over Europe, we hope to find out where these animals were seen before they died in the North Sea. Photos from all types of organizations from all over Europe will be combined in a sperm whale catalogue. For this we need money. Support our project with a donation so that we can learn together where these remarkable animals came from.
My name is Evert Mul and I work at the research institute of IMARES in Den Helder (The Netherlands). As a result of my fascination for whales, I have worked as a guide for whale watching companies in Norway during the summer months of 2011-2014. Here, I also studied the distribution of sperm whales, and I developed a sperm whale catalogue for the whale watching company I worked for. Together with the whale researchers Steve Geelhoed and Meike Scheidat (both from IMARES) I will work on a European catalogue. This catalogue can be used for these strandings, but also for strandings in the future, so that we can learn quickly where the stranded sperm whales came from.
Currently research is being done in the Netherlands on the contents of stomachs of the six sperm whales that were stranded on the coast of Texel (the Netherlands), but there is no photo-identification research conducted in the Netherlands. This project will change this! With this project, we aim to learn more about the migration patterns and routes of sperm whales. With this information we can find out if human activities, such as shipping, fishing or offshore construction could possibly interfere with these migration routes. Knowledge of migration routes is vital for the planning of these human activities and for the development of marine protected areas.
This project consists of three phases, the first phase is to collect pictures of the 29 stranded sperm whales. The second phase is to collect pictures from whale watching companies, researchers and the public. In the third phase I will form a database and a catalogue with these pictures so that I can start comparing and hopefully find where the stranded whales came from. Two of the three phases can already start during the crowdfunding campaign, and with the money that we collect we can start the third phase. Our financial target enables us to construct the basis for the catalogue and to start looking for matches with our stranded whales. If this crowdfunding campaign exceeds our financial target, we can also look at earlier European sperm whale strandings. With more money we can also maintain and update the catalogue in the future, so that it can be used immediately when a sperm whale strands in the Sperm whale on the beach of Texel (NL)Picture: Steve North Sea. Geelhoed
We keep all our supporters updated with the new developments in the project. New photo-collections, international collaborations, and of course any matches that we will find will be shared with everyone who joins our campaign. We will also demonstrate how photo-identification works exactly. The project started on the 23th of May, and we hope that many of you will support our project with a donation!
Sperm whale near Norway Picture: Evert Mul
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