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Harbour porpoise


Map of the current flight survey transect design for harbour porpoises in the North Sea and Baltic Sea EEZ and coastal waters, additionally showing locations of porpoise click detectors (PODs) in the Baltic Sea.
Map of the current flight survey transect design for harbour porpoises in the North Sea and Baltic Sea EEZ and coastal waters, additionally showing locations of porpoise click detectors in the Baltic Sea.

Harbour porpoises

Monitoring requirements under the Habitats Directive (Annex II), OSPAR, HELCOM, ASCOBANS and MSFD

Harbour porpoise are censused offshore in flight transect surveys. Count flights are carried out at short, regular intervals primarily in the North Sea, focusing on areas with large numbers of young porpoises and areas with significant offshore activity. The transects are narrower than further out in the North Sea (see map).

In the North Sea, two partial surveys are carried out every summer in the Sylt Outer Reef SAC (MINOS area C), two partial surveys each are done every spring in the Borkum Reef Ground SAC (MINOS area D), and a full survey of the German North Sea is completed in spring, summer and autumn every third year (there were no separate partial surveys this year).


Researcher counting marine mammals from the air, Photo: Kai Borkenhagen (FTZ)
Researcher counting marine mammals from the air, Photo: Kai Borkenhagen (FTZ)

Acoustic surveys in the Baltic Sea

A full survey of the German Baltic Sea (MINOS areas E and F-West) is taken every second summer, and POD monitoring is carried out continuously in the eastern Baltic Sea (six PODs throughout the year plus 16 SAMBAH POD stations in the last three years sambah.org). PODs are fixed underwater porpoise click detectors used to monitor cetaceans in areas of low population density. The eastern Baltic Sea, which is home to a very sparse genetically isolated harbour porpoise subpopulation, is targeted specially for monitoring with a network of PODs.

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