ASI: the Hellenic Trench completed by the R/V Song of the Whale

The Hellenic Trench is an important area for cetaceans. It is considered by ACCOBAMS as a Cetacean Critical Habitat. The “deep-divers”: sperm whales and the Cuvier’s beaked whales, who dive a few thousand meters to find their preys (squids), have to face significant threat caused by the intense maritime traffic in this narrow area, in particular in summer when the sperm whale density is high.

Along the ASI transects in the Hellenic Trench, many sperm whales were observed or acoustically detected together with the rough toothed dolphins and bottlenose dolphins, but also plastics.


The team of scientific observers onboard were from the Pelagos Cetacean Research Institute, an ACCOBAMS Partner and from WWF Greece. Overall, it was a very exiting experience for both the team of scientific observers and for the Song of the Whale crew.

Survey area showing ACCOBAMS block 22, trackline (green) designed using DISTANCE software. The identified high risk areas for shipping are indicated by the red line, courtesy of Russell Leaper and Alexandros Frantzis. This line was also surveyed as a transect.


Survey effort between 16 and 29 August 2018. Different effort modes are shown using different colours, with blues showing on-transect survey effort. Red shows focal-follows with sperm whales (both acoustically and visually).