SCS Expedition

Monitoring compliance regarding cetaceans & Macro-waste 

​Study zone :

Côte d’Azur (Pelagos Sanctuary)

Participation costs :

6 days expedition : CHF 1'090.- all inclusive on board

Tax-deductible payment

Meeting place :

Port of Saint-Mandrier (Toulon)

Number of Ecovolontaires per expedition :

Between 6 to 8 per team

Dates  :

LIGURIA expedition en 2020 :

L1 : from July 04 to 10

L2 : from July 11 to 17

L3 : from July 18 to 24

Information session :

Wednesday June 17, 2020 at 6.30 p.m. :

Maison de St-Jean, Avenue de Cour 138, Lausanne

Scientific partners :

EcoOcéan Institut (IMPACT-CET and Macro Waste Programs)








  • High degree of participation in on-board activities is required!

  • 18 years old and above 

  • Must know how to swim

  • No drugs on-board

  • Be a SCS member (registration included in the price for non-members)

  • Good physical condition and resistance to seasickness

  • NB: to be considered beyond 65 for reasons of balance in particular




Swiss Cetacean Society - SCS
Société suisse d’étude et de protection des cétacés – SCS

Swiss Cetacean Society - SCS CP 1430
CH-1001 Lausanne
Tel :  + 41 (0)77-469 25 26 





  • SCIENTIFIC : Help the scientific community to collect data, although pretty incomplete, to increase knowledge on cetaceans in the Mediterranean, in order to better protect them. The multiple researches on cetaceans of the Ligurian basin, in which SCS participates, responds to what is required from the signatory States of the International Marine Sanctuary (Art. 5 and 12.2.a of the Marine Sanctuary) and by the ACCOBAMS International Agreement, of which CBS is an official partner.


  • ARCHIVING : Collaborate in the photo-identification catalog of Mediterranean cetaceans.

  • EDUCATIONAL : In the face of growing pressures caused by pollution, over-fishing and tourism, in the Mediterranean, it is essential to raise public's awareness of the need to protect both cetaceans and their environment. A possibility is thus offered to anyone interested in better knowing and admiring whales and dolphins in their natural habitat, while doing a serious research work at sea.


Our work platforms are generally offshore sailboats, ranging from 12 to 16 meters.

The material for the transects consists of 7x50 parametric binoculars, making it possible to evaluate the angle and the distance of the animals relative to the boat, in iPad equipped with observation software to be filled in according to a precise protocol and in GPS positioners.

The crew will be able to observe marine fauna and obtain information from the SCS guide on board (cetaceans, birds, pelagic fish). Dolphin and whale encountered will be the subject of systematic scientific information, as well as photo-IDs on certain species.


In the latter case, we switch to approximation mode, in compliance with the SCS cetacean approach code, which is one of the most severe there is.

The boat approaches the animal in parallel by 3⁄4 aft, at very slow speed and stops at least 100 meters from it (even if it lets it approach on its own initiative if it wishes), to leave after 15 minutes maximum.

The boat follows a group of cetaceans at a sufficiently large distance which guarantees that the animals do not react to its presence.


One of the central objectives of SCS, since 1997, has been to improve the study of the ecology of cetaceans of certain species.

Some cetaceans are subject to photo-ID to determine their loyalty to the site and their movement. The photos are part of an image bank of Mediterranean cetaceans, which can then be compared with the catalogs of other organisms and used by interested scientists.


In our work area, the cetacean species that are best suited for photo-identification are the fin whale, the sperm whale, the Risso's dolphin and the bottlenose dolphin.

Currently, SCS photo equipment consists of DSLR cameras with EF 200mm telephoto lenses.

These ID photos must be compatible with the international photo-identification program Euroflukes.



Rich with their experience and knowledge in marine biology, the initiators created "EcoOcéan Institut" in 2004 (association law 1901) to combine their research and education actions on marine mammals. The aim is to contribute to the improvement of scientific knowledge, to effective and lasting concrete protection actions and to bring decision-makers, like the general public, to get involved in the conservation of marine vertebrates and their habitat.

EcoOcéan Institut collaborates with scientific teams, educational establishments, NGOs, seafaring professionals, local elected representatives, managers, State services, both at national and international level, because: Acting effectively is to Act together !


EcoOcéan Institut is a member of the Scientific Committee of the PELAGOS Sanctuary, that of the Calanques National Park and that of ACCOBAMS, as well as experts from the AFB, RAC / SPA, IUCN and founding members of GIS3M.

IMPACT-CET program  (Dr Léa David & Dr Nathalie Di-Méglio)

The objective of the IMPACT-CET program is to assess the impact of intense maritime traffic and the noise pollution it generates, on cetacean populations in the Côte d'Azur area. This research comes to the aid of particularly endangered species which constitute an invaluable resource for the biodiversity of this region, including the fin whale, which is often the victim of collisions.


This study allows making management proposals for better cohabitation between humans and animals

  • Identify and map the intensity (frequency and density) as well as the spatial and temporal evolution of various human activities (commercial maritime traffic, pleasure boat, fishing boat, whale-watching, offshore wind farm, clapage, etc.)

  • Estimate the nature and extent of the possible impact of human activity on the different species of cetaceans and seabirds

  • Provide managers with risk zone maps for each species of cetacean and bird, by problem (collision, disturbance, accidental catches, etc.)

  • Help managers find appropriate solutions in terms of management and conservation

  • Raise awareness among the concerned professionals and their representatives

  • Educate and bring the greatest number (the general public) to get involved in the protection and management of marine environment



European program of macro-waste research

Objective of the program: to develop protocols specific to the Mediterranean, to protect the biodiversity from the impact of marine litter, at local Marine Protected Areas (MPAs) and basin level

Medsealitter is a project funded by the European Union as part of the Interreg Med program aimed at bringing together Marine Protected Areas (MPAs), scientific organizations and environmental NGOs to develop, test and finalize standard protocols for monitoring macro-waste across the Mediterranean.

It aims to develop and validate, in the Mediterranean basin, systematic protocols for monitoring marine macro-waste and their potential effects on key species of biodiversity. This will strengthen effective management in MPAs by coordinating conservation measures in the various MPAs. In addition, the project will create a Mediterranean network of MPAs for the implementation of integrated and shared measures to provide effective solutions to the impact of macro-waste on marine biodiversity.


EcoOcéan Institut is involved in establishing data collection protocols for floating macro-waste on boats (small motor boats and sailboats), at the local level and on ferries at the scale of a basin. They are also the responsible body for the entire transfer aspect of the project, through organizing training sessions for MPA agents in various protocols, as well as the organization of workshops on the subject of macro-waste.



As a partner of the ACCOBAMS Agreement : 

Within the framework of the ACCOBAMS Agreement, the SCS monitors the human-cetacean interactions it encounters on route to any of its sea expeditions and denounces any breech of agreement, or, violation of national or international laws to maritime authorities.

Information on dolphin and whale encounters as well as photo-IDs on certain species (Tursiops, Sperm Whale, Fin whale and Globalephalus) are regularly requested by our scientific partners.

When approaching the animal-subject of the study, we move in compliance with the SCS Cetacean Approach Code, which is one of the most severe that there is.

The boat approaches the animal in parallel by 3⁄4 aft, at very slow speed and stops at a minimum 100 meters from it (even if the animal approaches on its own initiative). Leave after 15 minutes maximum.

The boat follows a group of cetaceans at a distance big enough to ensure that the animals do not react to its presence.

Swiss Cetacean Society - SCS

CP 1430 

1001 Lausanne 


2020 edited by Sandra Pernet 

2019 updated  by  Pierre Butty

2016 created  by  Tanit Agency