Project Results (Deliverables and Milestones)

Preparatory actions in brief:


From 1/10/2014 to 30/11/2015:

  • A network including the major representatives of the stakeholders interested to the project activity, has been created.
  • A good training to the personnel involved in the project has been provided so they could manage the tools of their competence.
  • The Protocol of Conduct for all cases considered has been produced.
  • Dedicated meetings with the stakeholders and a survey based on three thousand questionnaires administrated at the cruise terminal, have been carried out.


Concrete actions in brief:

Concrete action C1: Design of Detection System

October 2014-december 2016

In the project area an interference avoidance system capable to detect and track Sperm whale, to identify the threats and to prevent collisions and other risks, has been created. The system is capable to recognize the sounds produced by the Sperm whales. And during the project it has identified more than 5000 clicks of the Sperm whales in the area and recorded more than 3.500 hours of sounds together with environment parameters.

Concrete action C2: Detection System Procurement

January 2014-June 2017

We demonstrated that the system could generate an alarm to forecast by means of Coast Guards messages, and by specific app for smartphones, the presence of sperm whales. Four sperm whales have been localized during the whole project and their presence in the project area has been verified a-posteriori with a visual campaign coordinated by WHALESAFE. None of these animal has been localized with alternatively methods, thus proving that the acoustic monitoring could be the real breakthrough in the reduction of risks for cetaceans

Concrete action C3: Detection System Deployment Planning

June 2015-September 2015

The goal of this activity is to identify the places for the installation of the monitoring system and to specify installation requirements. The target areas have been studied to identify their specific features and requirements in order to design an optimal deployment strategy. 

Concrete action C4: Preliminary area survey and acoustic campaign

January 2015-December 2015

We implemented the basis for a database of sound recording and sightings. Unfortunately, due to the impossibility to maintain in operation the system the sample is limited to few animals.

Concrete action C5: Installation of Detection System

August 2015-May 2016

The acquisition systems has been installed in front of the Vado harbour several kilometres off-shore, following the deployment plan produced by Action C.3. 

The detector installation has been completed on 18th May 2016.

Concrete action C6: Monitoring and alarm generation centre development and set up

January 2015-March 2020

The data analysis centre development and set-up has been provided. Data received by the buoys are collected and analyzed by a processing centre to produce warning information on possible collision risks. Data transmitted by buoys are received by a wifi bridge on the coast and sent to the centre via the Internet. Data are stored and processed to track Cetaceans presence and position in near real time. 

The system has been operative since September 2017

Concrete action C7: Overall System Test

May 2016-September 2018

After being installed in the target areas, the monitoring system has been tested for a period of few months to discover optimal settings and to analyse the acoustic background for improving Cetaceans detection performance. This activity included the calibration with acoustic beacon, boat tracking and the visual search in real time of the Cetaceans identified by the monitoring system. 

Concrete action C8: Tagging Campaign

September 2017-in progress

Whale watching activity triggered by the WHALESAFE detection system has been carried out. This action collected a series of data on dive behaviour in the area in order to test the functioning of the system, monitoring continuously the position of the animal in the three dimensions. 

On 13th July 2018, after the alarm generated by the system, a vessel has reached  the emersion location provided real time by the WHALESAFE detector, and two sperm whales have been visually identified. 

During the two days with high sperm whale presence in the area around 30 cetacean tracks have reconstructed. 

Action C9: Detection system operation and maintenance

June 2016-december 2018

The detector installation has been completed on 18th May 2016 

In the first weeks of operation the detector tuning has been performed.

Unfortunately some accidents occurred during the project duration:

On 13th July 2016 the signals of the two buoys have been lost, following a collision with a medium-size boat.

On 28th September 2017 the data cable connecting secondary and main buoy has been damaged and the maintenance of the detector has restarted right after the deployment of the detection unit (6/6/18).

After the summer campaign, the system has been placed in the Savona-Vado harbour in order to preserve it for the 2019 summer campaign. On 29th October 2018 an exceptional storm hit most of the cost of Liguria, destroying several harbours. Also Savona-Vado harbour suffered of huge damages destroying and sinking all the vessel in the port. The WHALESAFE buoy was on the main pier of the harbour of Savona-Vado, waiting to be re-placed after the bad weather season, and it has been thrown in the sea and it sank. 

The buoy has been recovered one month later during the operation of restoration of the harbour but it was  completely destroyed.

Action C10: Integration of Acquired Data

May 2016-March 2020


The data recorded during the various campaigns by the detector have been analysed. The structure and the relationship of the specific tables in the WHALESAFE support database have been defined. In the first phase, waiting for the buoys signal, the system has been tested with simulated signals. In any case the portal and database software have been arranged in order to not be dramatically revised in case of data format changes.

Communication actions in brief:

  • During all the project duration, communication and dissemination actions, addressed to stakeholders and large public have been carried out: 
  • 3000 cruise passengers have been contacted for a preliminary survey  
  • more of 3700 persons have been involved in events like conferences, guided tours at Acquario di Genova, presentation at international fairs
  • more than 1000 student have been involved in educational laboratories and presentations
  • more than 5000 children have played the Whalesafe game on board of Costa Crociere Cruise ships
  • through press articles, TV and radio emissions we have potentially reached more than five millions persons.

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