Since 2009, LOTS has worked with the Foundation for the Development of the University of Gdańsk and the Marine Station of the University’s Oceanography Institute in Hel as part of the ‘LOTOS protects the Baltic Sea wildlife’ (‘LOTOS pomaga bałtyckiej przyrodzie’) programme. The joint efforts have been focused on saving the most endangered species of marine fauna of the Baltic Sea, notably the harbour porpoise (known as the Baltic dolphin), whose population is currently estimated at only 100, and the grey seal.
The equipment purchased with the financial support of Grupa LOTOS is used as the technical back-up for the purposes of the research work focusing on the population of harbour porpoise, conducted by the Marine Station of the Institute of Oceanography of the University of Gdańsk (SMIOUG), as well as the international Baltic project SAMBAH, currently the world’s largest initiative of this kind. C-POD recorders and auxiliary equipment used for on-site operation filled the gaps in the network of monitoring stations. A number of C-PODs are also used as a back-up to replace marine equipment at times of routine maintenance. As a result, all monitoring units of the Marine Station operate in a continuous manner. On-field work under the SMABAH project was completed in May 2013. Collected data will be analysed, and the findings will be published in 2014.
Thanks to funds donated under the programme, hydroacoustic detectors and fishing pots were purchased, as well as additional equipment for a research boat. Apart from these efforts, the partnership has paved the way for further projects aimed to promote knowledge on the Baltic Sea’s biodiversity and provide information on what can be done to protect the endangered species. Since 2014, LOTOS has been involved in the protection and awareness initiatives focusing on the grey seal species.
The protected harbour porpoise, one of the rarest mammals of the Baltic Sea, is in danger of extinction. Harbour porpoises are frequently called the Baltic cousins of dolphins but, unlike dolphins, they live very secretive lives and shy away from boats, which makes their observation and study difficult. They are the world’s smallest and shortest-lived cetaceans, and cousins to sperm whales, killer whales and dolphins. Harbour porpoise is the only cetacean species permanently inhabiting the Baltic Sea, mainly off the coast of Denmark, Germany, the south coast of Sweden, as well as the Gdańsk, Puck and Pomeranian Bays in Poland. In September 2013, the Marine Station in Hel completed the ‘Harbour Porpoise Museum’ project, which is now open to visitors.
Under the umbrella of the Baltic Sea Wildlife Protection programme, we have also implemented the following measures and initiatives:
• The ‘International Baltic Clean-Up Campaign’ (‘Kampania Międzynarodowe Sprzątanie Bałtyku’), organised in partnership with the Our Earth Foundation. For more information about the campaign, visit http://odpowiedzialny.lotos.pl/1487/spoleczenstwo/programy_spoleczne/kampania_miedzynarodowe_sprzatanie_baltyku
• The education and information platform dedicated to the natural riches and values of the Baltic Sea coast. The website is available at http://www.kierunekbaltyk.pl The project included a video streaming from a camera installed in the Seal Centre in Hel, showing the lives of our seals on a 24/7 basis. In March this year, we recorded the birth of young seals, and the feeding can be watched live. Visit http://www.sledzfoki.pl to watch our seals.
• As a supplement to and the crowning of all environmental activities and projects of Grupa LOTOS, we run our Facebook fanpage at https://www.facebook.com/kierunekbaltyk, which provides the latest news from the Baltic Sea, as well as interesting and useful information on the marine and coastal species of plants and animals.