Good news for the Baltic Sea's only whale

27 May, 2021
Updated 22 March, 2024

The Swedish Museum of Natural History has released a new report showing that the porpoise population in the Baltic Sea may be recovering. The porpoise, the only whale in the Baltic Sea, is critically endangered and today only 500 individuals remain.

Previously, the porpoise has been mapped through the national monitoring program, but since 2017, the Swedish Museum of Natural History has placed twelve underwater microphones in different places in the Baltic Sea to get a better overview of the whale. The porpoise uses sound, so-called echolocation, to navigate, hunt and communicate in the water. The researchers have had a greater impact on their tracking than before, which could mean that the porpoise population has increased.

“The population is still very small and the increase is far from what you would expect in a healthy population without threats, but it is still a fantastically gratifying sign,” says Julia Carlström, researcher at the Swedish Museum of Natural History.

Despite the fact that there are plenty of porpoises on the west coast, the Baltic Sea’s population is its own genetic variation that the researchers believe needs local protection efforts in the Baltic Sea to survive. The major threats to porpoises today are mainly that they ingest environmental toxins, become by-catch or are exposed to noise from shipping or wind power.

What has made the stock appear to have recovered, the researchers cannot say with certainty. But they have applied to investigate the species more closely through inventory and mapping, to better understand what protective measures are required to save the Baltic Sea’s only whale.

Read the full study here.

Source: Naturhistoriska riksmuseet
Photo: Martin Almqvist / TT Bild
I tusentals år har det funnits tumlare i Östersjön – en skygg delfinliknande val. Men på grund av miljögifter och fiske har antalet minskat kraftigt sedan mitten av 1900-talet. Tumlarpopulationen i Östersjön är idag klassad som akut hotad. Frågan är om det för sent att rädda tumlaren?…
Reportage: Martin Widman och Björn Hagberg
Rubrikfoto: Martin Almqvist
Tumlarvideo: Jens Peder Jeppesen, Öresundsarkivet
Rubrikfoto: Martin Almqvist

Related articles

E-DNA has been used to, among other things, track the spread of the coronavirus in our wastewater – now researchers are testing the method on pike…
Reportage: Fanny Jönsson
Underwater Photo: Tobias Dahlin
Photo: Simon Stanford
Editor: Daniel Hedström
Editor pictures from pike counters: Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences (SLU)
In Finland, Deep Sea Reporter visits one of the most modern facilities around the Baltic Sea. It rejects criticism of the large catches of industrial trawlers…
Report: Peter Löfgren
Photo: Erik Saanila
Danish commercial fishing is being hit hard by Brexit. But there are big differences between fishermen. One of them is a billionaire. And criminal suspect…
Text: Staffan Dahllöf, Copenhagen
Photo: Jan Nordén/TT
Scroll to Top