Distribution of cetacean species in the sea of ​​the Tuscan Archipelago

Molinari's thesis analyzes the distribution of cetacean species regularly present (i.e. with sightings that are not occasional but repeated over time) in the waters of the Tuscan archipelago, in particular in the area of ​Elba Island, elaborating a species-specific mapping of Physeter macrocephalus, Tursiops truncatus, Delphinus delphis, Stenella coeruleoalba and Balaenoptera physalus. 

The work, based on the data obtained through the monitoring at sea carried out by the Cetacean Research Center from 2004 to 2018, makes it possible to statistically identify the current ranges of these species, whose distribution was analyzed using the ecology of the species and the conformation of the territory, to verify changes in function of both oceanographic parameters and anthropogenic activity.

The results suggest the presence of Tursiops truncatus in coastal waters; the distribution of Stenella coeruleoalba at the continental slopes of the archipelago and of Balaenoptera physalus on the continental shelf. Although with little data, the presence of Physeter macrocephalus is estimated in the pelagic and mesopelagic areas, while the scarcity of sightings of Delphinus delphis prevents reliable analyzes and evidence of the critical situation for this species.

The maps obtained, including satellite maps, constitute a starting point for the study of the distribution of individual species and its variation over time, aimed at the conservation and protection of these animals which, being at the top of the food chain, also represent important biological indicators and provide information on the health of the marine environment.