SAvE Whales: Implementation agreement with Greece signed to protect the endangered sperm whales from collision with ships in the Strait of Kythira

SAvE Whales

The Greek government, the Athens-based environmental think tank The Green Tank and OceanCare signed a Memorandum of Understanding for the implementation of the “SAvE Whales” system in the Strait of Kythira. This innovative technology is designed as a complementary tool to protect the endangered sperm whales from collision with ships in areas where re-routing of vessel traffic is not possible.

The Greek Minister of Environment and Energy, Theodoros Skylakakis, the President of the Natural Environment and Climate Change Agency (OFYPEKA-NECCA), Maria Papadopoulou, the co-founder and Policy Director of The Green Tank, Ioli Christopoulou, the President and Founder of OceanCare, Sigrid Lueber, and the Managing Director of OceanCare, Fabienne McLellan signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) for the effective development and full operation of SAvE Whales.

Ioli Christopoulou, Co-founder and Policy Director of The Green Tank, said:

“Today is a landmark day for the protection of sperm whales and the country's biodiversity protection policy. In recent years, more and more international organizations have passed resolutions calling for urgent action to address the main threat to sperm whales in the Mediterranean, the collision with passing ships. With the MoU we signed today, we are giving perspective to an innovative solution in a key marine habitat within the Hellenic Trench for this species that has been identified as a high-risk area. In close collaboration with the Greek Ministry of Environment and Energy, NECCA, OceanCare and scientists, The Green Tank will contribute to the coordination and full implementation of the system in the Kythira Strait.”

Sigrid Lueber, President and Founder of OceanCare, added:

“The signing of the Memorandum of Understanding is the fruition of years of efforts to safeguard sperm whales, in collaboration with Greek scientists, Alexandros Frantzis, PELAGOS Cetacean Research Institute, and Emmanuel Skarsoulis, FORTH. Despite the challenges, we managed to design a system based on smart technology responding to the greatest threat for the sperm whales population in the Eastern Mediterranean Sea. Our objective is for the system to steer the course in the Hellenic Trench for more intensive and complementary efforts to protect sperm whales from the threat of ship strikes, especially in areas – such as the Kythira Strait – where re-routing is not possible.”

The collaboration aims to scaling up the “SAvE Whales” (System for the Avoidance of ship-strikes with Endangered Whales) technology, so it can ultimately become an official mitigation and warning tool that will alert mariners about the presence of sperm whales in the Strait of Kythira. SAvE Whales is an innovative system locating the exact position of sperm whales up to 7 kilometers and transmitting the information in real-time to inform mariners to slow down or adjust route in order to avoid collision.

A joint commitment by the Greek Ministry of Environment and Energy, NECCA, OceanCare and The Green Tank to upgrade the SAvE Whales system was announced during the 9th Our Ocean Conference.

SAvE Whales