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  New sanctuary to protect whales
Updated 03 July 2004, 12.50
Whale splashing around
Environmentalists have set up a new whale sanctuary off Italy, dedicated to protecting the massive mammals.

The rescue centre will allow scientists to study whales and other sea mammals in their natural environment.

The area is about 84,000 square km and covers about 2,000 km of coastline and to help fund the sanctuary people can pay to go whale watching.

It's the biggest protected area in the Mediterranean Sea and the first one to include international waters.


It took ten years of talking but in 1999 Italy, France and Monaco signed an agreement to help protect the whales by supporting a sanctuary.

Environmentalists who campaigned for it say the ecosystem in the area is unique and offers perfect temperature and feeding conditions for whales.

Whale watch

Around 3,500 whales regularly feed in the area during the summer and it's hoped scientists will be able to learn more about their habits.

Whales are the biggest creatures on our planet but in recent years their numbers have gone down as the result of hunting, fishing and pollution.

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