The association Edmaktub, in Vilanova i la Geltrú (Barcelona, Spain) was selected for the Lighthouse Holding the Key program.
Lighthouse detected in the initiative not only an important contribution to ecological sustainability, which it carries out through its research and communication, but also that one of its strengths is a transdisciplinary team, the involvement of volunteers and its collaboration network.
Edmaktub is a scientific organization committed to the marine environment in the Mediterranean, especially the cetaceans that inhabit it.
A permanent team, composed of scientists specialized in different fields; biology, veterinary and environmental sciences carry out their work. And, regularly, another volunteer team of variable number is added, depending on the year and the projects that are developed.
The team has a research vessel, the “Maktub”, a 14-meter sailing catamaran with a capacity for 12 crew members. The Maktub is equipped with technical instruments to carry out the research, such as specialized software, echo sounders or thermal cameras.
Edmaktub developed Projecte Rorcual to study the presence of the fin whale, the second largest species in the world and the only whale present in the Mediterranean Sea during spring. The project aims to investigate and monitor the whales, study their population, distribution and movements, as well as the oceanographic conditions that favor their presence. Sighting and identification of the whales is carried out from the catamaran. Among its instruments, Edmaktub has a pioneering technique; a drone that allows the aerial sighting and identification of fin whales through images.
During its research, the team collects samples in order to analyze the concentration of microorganisms, as well as the marine fauna present in the area. In relation to these aspects, oceanographic and meteorological data are also collected.
In addition, the interaction of fin whales with boats (especially cargo boats) and the high risk of collision are studied, which is the first cause of death of these whales, especially in an area with a high concentration of marine traffic such as Barcelona and Tarragona, both cities on the Mediterranean coast of Spain. Among the threats, there are also recreational boats, which often do not respect the protection measures towards cetaceans.
The analysis and study of the data collected shows that the Catalan coast is a priority feeding area for the fin whale and, therefore, its care and conservation is closely linked to that of the fin whale.
Studying the presence of whales and their feeding on the Catalan coast is important not only for the species, but also to know the state of health of the coastal ecosystem in the area. All this knowledge is necessary to implement measures for the protection and conservation of the marine habitat in general, and in particular, of the fin whale.
Edmaktub has a network of collaboration and support, including groups, individuals and institutions in different degrees of collaboration. This network includes national and international research institutions such as the Institut de Ciències del Mar-CSIC de Barcelona, the Factultat de Biologia de la UB, the Facultat de Veterinària de la UAB, Thetys Research Institute, University of Groningen, Universitat Politècnica de València or the Laboratori d’Aplicacions Bioacústiques among others.
Among their network, one of their most valuable alliances is the fishing fleet, as they provide real-time information on the presence of whales.
Lighthouse has financially supported Edmaktub for the acquisition of a drone. During the 2022 season, the use of the drone has allowed the identification of 99 fin whales, in addition to being able to obtain unique images of their behavior and feeding.
After the research carried out during the 2022 season, Edmaktub has published the following press release, as well as an article in the scientific journal Frontiers, entitled “Ship Strike Risk flor Fin Whales (Balaenoptera physalus) Off the Garraf coast, Northwest Mediterranean Sea” and the video summary of the season on its Youtube channel.