canary islands

A ‘fast ferry’ collides with a sperm whale 20 minutes off Tenerife

According to a eyewitness account, a collision was felt on board of a Tenerife-bound ferry and the animal was seen on the surface surrounded by a bloodstain.

This Monday, an adult sperm whale was impacted by a fast ferry of the Fred Olsen Express shipping company, which was travelling between the ports of Agaete (Gran Canaria) and Santa Cruz de Tenerife.

The incident was reported on social networks by biologist Amanhuy Duque Hernández, a passenger on the ferry which departed at 14.00 hours from Gran Canaria and who was on deck. “With about 20 minutes to go to Santa Cruz, I was photographing various birds, cetaceans and a sperm whale 200 metres from the ship when I felt a loud bang. When I looked back in the wake of the ferry I could see a brown spot of blood and another adult sperm whale flailing in pain on the surface”. He then located the point of the collision for the colleagues in charge of the body search, investigation and autopsy.

The Canary Islands is the world’s largest sperm whale collision site and is the only known breeding population in the Northeast Atlantic. In the last two decades, more than 80 cetaceans have collided with different vessels in the archipelago. In recent years there has been a spike in collisions coinciding with the introduction of new fast ferry routes and increased frequencies.

Amanhuy Duque said that “it is not only the shipping company that is to blame, but also the Government of the Canary Islands, which continues to fail to regulate the speed of the ships. The cetaceans do not have time to react and move out of the way to avoid the collision,” he lamented.

According to the Canary Islands government, sperm whales represent 54% of the cetacean species stranded on the islands after a collision. A study by the Institute of Animal Health of the University of Las Palmas showed that in 80% of the collisions the cetacean was alive.

Scroll to Top