Scientists surveying the Mediterranean Sea have found at least four different species, including sperm whales and three species of dolphins, in an area close to the island of Crete, where TotalEnergies and ExxonMobil are set to start seismic tests to explore for oil and gas, a new Greenpeace Greece report shows today. Sperm whales are an endangered species in the Mediterranean due to their low numbers and their vulnerability to human activities. Campaigners warn about the dire threats to these mammals, including extremely loud noise pollution from seismic blasts if the oil companies’ plans go ahead. 

The survey carried out in September 2021 in collaboration with Pelagos Cetacean Research Institute consisted of a visual-acoustic survey that covered a total track line distance of 5,971 km within the offshore region of the Hellenic Trench, including the area where the oil giants, plus Greek firm HELPE, were granted two joint exploration blocks in 2019. The “Southwest Crete” block is located approximately 16.5 km southwest of the island of Crete, while the  block “West Crete” is located approximately 120 km to the west. 

“TotalEnergies and ExxonMobil are exposing endangered species and crucial ecosystems to unbearable noise and pollution from seismic blasts and deep-sea drilling operations. And for what? To keep burning oil and gas, one of the dirtiest and most expensive energy sources, when the climate crisis demands we urgently walk away from them. Last week, Shell won a case which confirmed their permission to blast air guns every ten seconds in whale breeding areas on South Africa’s Wild Coast, though the campaign to stop Shell continues. We must stop TotalEnergies now before it starts to wreck the Mediterranean,” said Kostis Grimanis, Climate & Energy campaigner with Greenpeace Greece.

The report identifies the Mediterranean as a crucial ecosystem for marine life that is already experiencing the effects of the climate crisis. It’s more urgent than ever to protect its biodiversity and put an end to extractive fossil fuel plans supported by the Greek government.

“TotalEnergies has recently invested in a multi million-Euro rebrand campaign to convince us it’s a green and responsible company. Advertising and sponsorship enables these companies to keep destroying the planet for profit. This is part of a smokescreen that we need to blow away to see what’s behind it: a huge threat to the climate and a solid chance that the biodiversity in the Mediterranean will suffer irreparable damage,” said Edina Ifticene, Greenpeace France Oil campaigner and lead organiser of the European Citizens’ Initiative calling for a ban of fossil fuel advertising and sponsorship in the EU. If one million EU citizens sign the petition, the European Commission will have to consider tabling a new law. 

Greenpeace demands that all fossil fuel plans in Greece are immediately cancelled. Any new investment in the falsely advertised “good” fossil gas will in a few years become a stranded asset with dire consequences for the economy, the Greek & European taxpayers and the country’s natural resources. 


Photos available to download from the Greenpeace Media Library HERE

Report in English available HERE. Report in Greek available HERE


Smaragda Skoulou, Communications Officer, Greenpeace Greece: [email protected], +30 6944 875444

Kostis Grimanis, Climate and Energy Campaigner, Greenpeace Greece: [email protected], +30 6984617034

Greenpeace International Press Desk: [email protected], +31 (0) 20 718 2470 (available 24 hours)

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