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Rede de Arrojamentos de Cetáceos do Arquipélago da Madeira

R.A.C.A.M.

Madeira cetacean stranding network

contacts:

291 961 859 / 924 432 091

The larger whales, belonging to the sub-order Mysticeti use these seas as a crossing point or seasonal residence, where some individuals remain for several months. Fin whales, Bryde’s whales and Sei whales have been observed feeding, and for the first two species the presence of calves was confirmed in these waters.

Northern Right Whale

Common name (Portuguese): Baleia-franca, Baleia-basca ou Baleia-da-biscaia
Traditional in Madeira: Raituel
Scientific name: Eubalaena glacialis (Müller, 1776)
Common name (inglês): Northern Right Whale

Length Adult - 17m / Calf - 4m

Weight- 90 000kg
Baleia-franca ou Baleia-basca

Northern Right Whale
Description:

Broad back and rounded body without a dorsal fin. The body of the whale is dark grey or black, occasionally with white patches on the belly.
The head has white callosities and the mouth forms a long arch.
Shows its fluke when it’s about to dive.


Ecology:

Occurs preferentially in coastal and shallow waters, however, can also be observed off the coast. Tends to form relatively small groups of up 2 to 12 individuals. It is a slow swimmer and performs relatively shallow dives that do not exceed 20 minutes of immersion. With a specialized diet in microplankton, it prefers to feed on copepods. It avoids the consumption of fishes and large invertebrates.

Conservation Status (IUCN) - Global / Regional:

Endangered species / Not evaluated.
The North Atlantic “Stock” is considered endangered. The North-west Atlantic population is estimated at only a few hundred adult individuals. The population of the North-east Atlantic is considered nearly extinct.


Legal Protction Status:
Species legally protected under the Regional Decree no.6/86/M; Habitats Directive – Strict protection (appendix IV); CITES (appendix I); Bonn Convention – endangered migratory species (appendix I); Bern Convention – Strictly Protected Fauna Species (appendix II).


Threats:
Accidental drownings in fishing gears and collisions in areas with high maritime traffic. Unknown in Madeira.

Distribution:
Its current distribution is mainly restricted to the cold and temperate waters of the north-west Atlantic coasts

Presense in the Region: Rare
The only documented observation of this species in the waters of Madeira dates back to February 27th 1967, when a female and its calf were captured by the Whaling Company of the Madeira Archipelago (EBAM).


Occurrence throughout : Undetermined

Blue Whale


Common name (Portuguese)Baleia-azul
Traditional name in Madeira: 
Finbeque
Scientific name:
Balaenoptera musculus (Linnaeus, 1758)
Common name (English): 
Blue Whale

Length:Adult -
25m /Calf- 7m

Weight:Adult -
120 000kg

Baleia-azul

Blue Whale
Description:

Large and very elongated body.
Tiny dorsal fin, located on the back of the body near the caudal peduncle
.

General coloration of the body is a mottled blue-grey.
Broad U-shaped head. When it surfaces it is possible to see the top of the head and the dorsal fin simultaneously.
Prominent blowhole.
Its blow makes a piercing sound, and reaches up to 10 m high.


Ecology:
Occurs in all seas from coastal waters to the oceanic waters. They are usually live alone or at most pairs. They are slow swimmers but can reach 16 knots when chased. Its diet consists mainly in small crustaceans such as krill, they can eat up to 4 tons on a daily basis.

Conservation Status (IUCN) - Global / Regional:
Endangered species / Not evaluated.
North Atlantic adult population estimated at a few hundred, a thousand maximum individuals.


Legal Protection Status:
Species legally protected under the Regional Decree no.6/86/M; Habitats Directive – Strict protection (appendix IV); CITES (appendix I); Bonn Convention – endangered  migratory species (appendix I) ; Bern Convention – Strictly Protected Fauna Species (appendix II).

Threats: 
Drastic reduction in the size of the original populations, some up to 99%, caused by the whale hunt which ended officially in 1966.
Accidental drownings in fishing gears and collisions in areas with high maritime traffic. Unknown in Madeira.


Distribution: Cosmopolitan.

Presence in the Region: Rare
Even though it was observed a few times, its presence was only confirmed on April 2009.

Occurrence throughout the year: Undetermined

Fin Whale

Common name (Portuguese): Baleia-comum
Traditional name in Madeira: Finbeque
Scientific name: Balaenoptera physalus(Linnaeus, 1758)
Common name (English):Fin Whale

Length Adult- 20m /Calf- 6m


Weight Adult- 80 000kg

Baleia-comum

Fin Whale
Description:
Very long body. It has a less pronounced dorsal fin compared to the Sei Whale and located it is located further on the back.
The body colour is dark blue-grey in the dorsal and pectoral fins, and light in the belly.
The lower left lip is dark and the right one is white.
When it surfaces it is not possible to see the blowhole and the dorsal fin simultaneously.
When it dives it does not show the fluke but it bends its caudal peduncle.
Its blow is vertical and very high, reaching up to 5 m high.

Ecology:
Usually occurs in deep ocean waters and is rarely seen in coastal areas. They are usually solitary or form groups of up to 5 individuals. They are fast swimmers, with an average speed of 9 knots. Its diet is based on small planktonic crustaceans such as copepods, small fish and cephalopods.

Conservation Status (IUCN) - Global / Regional:
Endangered species / Data Deficient.

Legal Protection Status:
Species legally protected under the Regional Decree no.6/86/M; Habitats Directive – Strict protection (appendix IV); CITES (appendix I); Bern Convention – Strictly Protected Fauna Species (appendix II).

Threats:
Accidental drownings in fishing gears and collisions in areas with high maritime traffic. In Madeira there is a case of vessel collision.

Distribution:
Cosmopolitan, but more frequent in temperate and sub polar waters.

Presence in the Region:
Common
Regular presence in the waters of the Madeira archipelago. Animals accompanied by calves and/or feeding were observed. Interactions between these animals and fishing vessels were also seen, the animals rubbed their back of the hull of the boat.

Occurrence throughout the year:
Seasonal
Frequent in spring and summer. Sporadic observations in other months of the year.

Sei Whale

Common name (Portuguese): Baleia-sardinheira
Traditional name in Madeira: Finbeque
Scientific name :Balaenoptera borealis(Lesson, 1828)
Common name (English):Sei Whale

Length Adult- 14m /Calf- 4m


Weight Adult- 25 000kg

Baleia-sardinheira

Sei Whale
Description:
Very elongated body. Its dorsal fin is the highest and is further to the back than the other baleen whales.
Its body colour is dark steel grey on the dorsal and pectoral fins, and white on the ventral surface.
When it surfaces it is possible to see the blowhole and the dorsal fin simultaneously.
When diving does not show the fluke nor does it arches the caudal peduncle.
The vertical blow reaches up to 3 m high.

Ecology:
Occurs in all oceans. They can be seen around islands, but rarely anywhere near the coast. They form groups of 2 to 5 animals. In good feeding areas groups of up to 30 individuals can be formed. They may interact with the vessels. The diet is based in small planktonic crustaceans such as copepods and small fish as mackerel and sardines.

Conservation Status (IUCN) - Global / Regional:
Endangered species / Not evaluated.

Legal Protection Status:
Species legally protected under the Regional Decree no.6/86/M; Habitats Directive – Strict protection (appendix IV); CITES (appendix I); Bern Convention – Protected Fauna Species (appendix III).

Threats:
Accidental drownings in fishing gears and collisions in areas with high maritime traffic. Unknown in Madeira.

Distribution:
Occurs in all oceans from the tropics to sub polar waters. Even though their migrations appear to be quite irregular, it is believed that they spend the summer and winter at high latitudes closer to the tropics.

Presence in the Region:
Occasional
The first official record of this species in the waters of the Madeira archipelago was obtained in 2002. Several animals were observed feeding in these waters and may remain for one or more months.

Occurrence throughout the year:
Seasonal
Frequent in the spring and summer months. Sporadic observations occur in other months of the year. The collected information in the past two years for the species is still relatively scarce, despite showing a seasonal pattern.

Bryde's Whale


Common name (Portuguese): Baleia-tropical ou Baleia-de-bryde
Traditional name in Madeira: Finbeque
Scientific name: Balaenoptera edeni(Anderson, 1879)
Common name (English): Bryde's Whale

Length Adult- 13m /Calf- 3,5m


Weight Adult- 18 000kgBaleia-tropical ou Baleia-de-bryde

Bryde's Whale
Description:
Very similar to the Sei Whale.
It is distinguishable by its three longitudinal ridges on the top of the rostrum. The caudal peduncle arches when diving.

Ecology:
Found in especially productive areas. They are observed either alone or in pairs; they form groups of up to seven animals, although less frequently. Around highly productive feeding waters it is possible to see loose aggregations of up to thirty whales. They feed on small fish and sometimes small planktonic crustaceans (e.g., krill). Patterns of seasonal migration aren't known, however they perform activities close to coastal areas. They may interact with the vessels.

Conservation Status (IUCN) - Global / Regional:
Data Deficient / Not evaluated.

Legal Protection Status:
Species legally protected under the Regional Decree no.6/86/M; Habitats Directive – Strict protection (appendix IV); CITES (appendix I); Bern Convention – Strictly Protected Fauna Species (appendix II).

Threats:
Accidental drownings in fishing gears and collisions in areas with high maritime traffic. Unknown in Madeira.

Distribution:
It occurs in tropical and warm temperate waters throughout the world, usually between 35 ° N and 35 ° south they can also be observed sporadically at higher latitudes. In the Northeast Atlantic can be sighted near the North-east African coast up to the Strait of Gibraltar.

Presence in the Region:
Occasional
The first record of this species in Madeira Archipelago waters is recent and dates up to 2004. Feeding animals were observed and a calf was stranded, indicating that these waters are used for females to give birth.

Occurrence throughout the year: 
Undetermined
The species has been observed between June and October, implying a seasonal occurrence. However, with only one year of observation recordings (2004) no conclusion could be made.

Humpback Whale

Common name (Portuguese): Baleia-de-bossas, Jubarte ou Baleia-corcunda
Scientific name: Megaptera novaeangliae (Borowski, 1781)
Common name (English): Humpback Whale

Length Adults- 14m /Calf- 3,5m


Weight Adult- 30 000kg

Baleia-de-bossa ou Jubarte

Humpback Whale
Description:
It has series of knobby protuberances on the head and pectoral fins, clearly visible when the animal is at the surface.
It has very long pectoral fins, up to 1/3 of the total body length.
It has a dark bluish dorsal colour, and in the ventral surface it might be light or dark.
When it dives strongly arches the back and raises the fluke completely out of water.

Ecology:
Generally inhabits coastal waters, crossing deep waters during migration. They are usually observed in small groups. They are curious about boats and extremely active, frequently breaching. When in cold waters, they feed on crustaceans and small fish, the humpbacks fast during reproduction.

Conservation Status (IUCN) - Global / Regional:
Vulnerable / Not evaluated.

Legal Protection Status:
Species legally protected under the Regional Decree no.6/86/M; Habitats Directive – Strict protection (appendix IV); CITES (appendix I); Bern Convention – Strictly Protected Fauna Species (appendix II).

Threats:
Its population fell by an estimated 95% caused by hunting which officially ended in 1966. Accidental drownings in fishing gears. Unknown in Madeira.

Distribution:
Migratory species that occurs in all oceans. Spends the summer in feeding areas located at high latitudes, migrating in winter to reproduction areas located in shallow waters around islands, seamounts, along continental coasts and in tropical and subtropical regions. The waters around the islands of Cape Verde are known as the reproduction area for the North-east Atlantic humpbacks.

Presence in the Region:Rare
It uses the waters of the region possibly for migrating routes. Rarely observed in the waters of the Madeira archipelago. There are some observations and captures of animals in the 1950s and 60s Whaling Company of Madeira Archipelago (EBAM) and two sightings in the past two years.

Occurrence throughout the year:
Undetermined
It might be sighted in the waters of the region during spring when migrating to higher latitudes and in the autumn months when migrating to lower latitudes.

Minke Whale

Common name (Portuguese): Baleia-anã
Scientific name: Balaenoptera acutorostrata (Lacépède, 1804)
Common name (English): Minke Whale

Length Adult:9m / Calf: 2,5m

Weight Adult:8000Kg

Baleia-anã

Minke Whale
Description


·        
Elongated body and a very pointed head.

·         The pectoral fins have a white patch on them.

·         The body colour is dark blue-grey in the dorsal area and light in the ventral surface.

·         When it surfaces it is possible to see the blowhole and the dorsal fin simultaneously.

·         When diving does not show the fluke.

·         Its blow is low and reaches up to 2-3m high.


Ecology:
It occurs in oceanic and coastal waters and it may get into estuaries and bays. Usually solitary, rarely form groups of more than 3 individuals. They are curious animals and can sometimes come near the boats. Opportunistic animals, feed on small fish pods as well as plankton, particularly Krill.

Conservation Status (IUCN) - Global / Regional:
Least Concern / Not evaluated.

Legal Protection Status:
Species legally protected under the Regional Decree no.6/86/M; Habitats Directive – Strict protection (appendix IV); CITES (appendix I); Bern Convention – Protected Fauna Species (appendix III).

Threats:
Accidental drownings in fishing gears and collisions in areas with high maritime traffic. Unknown in Madeira.

Distribution:
Occurs in all oceans in tropical, temperate and polar waters. They are mainly sighted near the coast and on the continental shelf. They can cross deep waters during migration.

Presence in the Region:
Rare
The distribution of this species in the North-east Atlantic is not well documented. It is rarely observed in the waters of the Madeira archipelago. The recorded sightings are usually from solitary animals.

Occurrence throughout the year: 
Undetermined
The few sightings and strandings occurring in Madeira are bound to happen, especially during summer.

 

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