Harbour porpoise sighting in the western Baltic Sea
The harbour porpoise was once so common in the Baltic Sea that in most coastal states it was actively hunted, in some places as late as the nineteenth century. Hunting was no doubt one of the reasons why porpoise populations collapsed, but there were others as well: Mass fatalities in very harsh winter freezes, habitat destruction, noise, and depletion of food due to partly to overfishing. Whatever other factors were involved earlier, however, unintentional by-catch in fishing nets has become the biggest problem for harbour porpoise populations in the last few decades and remains so today.
To obtain better information about the distribution and size of the remaining harbour porpoise populations, Gesellschaft zum Schutz der Meeressäugetiere (GSM, a marine mammal conservation NGO) has distributed questionnaires to sailing clubs annually since 2002 with a request to report all occasional sightings. In 2005, for example, data were collected and mapped for over 800 sightings of nearly 1,500 individuals between the Kattegat and the island of Rügen. The survey is repeated each year and it is hoped that support will continue to grow, because the data are a valuable aid in international conservation efforts for this charismatic cetacean.
The static maps for download:
(in German only)
- Sichtungskarte 2011
- Sichtungskarte 2010
- Sichtungskarte 2009
- Sichtungskarte 2008
- Sichtungskarte 2007
- Sichtungskarte 2006
- Sichtungskarte 2005
These interactive maps show all reported harbour porpoise sightings. The 2006 map also includes carcase finds.
Zoom into the map and click a sighting for information about the geographical location, the number of individuals sighted, and the observation area.
Submit your own sighting
Have you seen porpoises in the Baltic Sea? Here you will find the web form to enter your sighting.
- Enter sighting on www.meeresmuseum.de
(in German only)