World's first Sperm Whale reserve to be created


The world's first Sperm Whale reserve is set to be established off the coast of Dominica.

Roosevelt Skerrit, the Prime Minister of the Caribbean island-nation, said commercial fishing and large ships would be banned in an area off the country's western coast measuring almost 800 sq km.

A female Sperm Whale and her calf (Gabriel Barathieu).

The seas off Dominica are some of the few places in the world where Sperm Whales can be found throughout the year and the zone in question is a key breeding and foraging ground for the cetacean, which is currently listed as Vulnerable.

"The 200 or so Sperm Whales that call our sea home are prized citizens of Dominica," Mr Skerrit said. 

"Their ancestors likely inhabited Dominica before humans arrived. We want to ensure these majestic and highly intelligent animals are safe from harm and continue keeping our waters and our climate healthy."

Commercial fishing will not be permitted in the reserve, but artisanal fishing will be allowed, as long as it is sustainable and does not endanger the whales. Tourists will be able to view the mammals from boats and even swim with them, but their numbers will be restricted under new regulations. Large ships will be required to use designated ocean corridors to avoid disturbing the whales.