Whale Watching in the Eastern Mediterranean

4th June 2015

The warm waters of the Ligurian and Adriatic Seas are teeming with life, providing a home for many cetacean species including a variety of whales and dolphins. It is worth noting that the Ligurian Sea is a Specially Protected Area of Mediterranean Importance (otherwise known as a SPAMI) as a result of the high population of cetacean species.

The likelihood of witnessing a whale whilst on board a cruise around the Italian or Greek waters of the Adriatic, Ionian and Aegean Seas is very high. With this mind, we take a closer look at some of the whales you may be able to witness on an Eastern Mediterranean cruise with Star Clippers.

Fin Whales (18 – 26 metres)

Fin Whale

If you’re afraid to look away from the ocean for just a second through fear of potentially missing a whale, you’ll be glad to know that fin whales are the world’s second largest. These whales can measure the same size as a city bus and will be distinguishable by their straight-up blow and long back. You will rarely see their tail.

The presence of these whales in this region can be attributed to the abundance of krill in the area. Fin Whales eat krill (tiny shrimp) and with as many as 2,000 of these whales in the Eastern Mediterranean, the chances of seeing one are particularly high. The best chance will most likely be in the waters of Peloponnese (Greece).

Sperm Whales (12 - 18 metres)

Sperm Whale

You are also likely to see sperm whales whilst sailing the Mediterranean. These whales feed on giant squid and unlike fin whales; sperm whales can be described as “tail up, whale down.” They will often spend a few minutes on the surface, before taking the deep dive to hunt for food. Each dive can last anywhere from 15 minutes to one hour.

These whales tend to swim in loose groups, although not necessarily side-by-side. They are easily distinguished by their distinctive 45 degree angled spout.


Minke Whales (7 – 12)

Considerably smaller than sperm and fin whales; minke whales tend to reach a maximum length of between 30-35 feet. They often swim alone and have a tall spout and a low dorsal fin near their tail. They will often breathe three to five times in short intervals before ‘deep-diving’ for anywhere between two to 20 minutes.


Pilot Whales

Sperm Whale

A pilot whale will often be distinguishable by a visible, black, balloon shaped head. These fish eaters will often be seen swimming alongside or nearer much larger species. They have a tendency to guide larger cetaceans and if you do see a pilot whale, there’s a great chance you’ll also see much larger whales nearby.

If you want to witness these whales for yourself, why not embark on a cruise around the Eastern Mediterranean with Star Clippers. Not only will you have the opportunity to witness a wide collection of cetaceans, but you’ll also be able to visit a number of stunning destinations including Venice, Kotor and the Greek isles. Star Clippers tall-sailing ships will take you on an exciting range of journeys that you will never forget.