Whale and Dolphin Conservation - July 2021 Update

WDC Update – July 2021

Orca Whale Calf Rescue in New Zealand

An orca whale calf was recently rescued and is being rehabilitated after becoming stranded near Wellington, New Zealand. The calf was moved to a segregated harbour area where he is being cared for by experts and responding well.  In the meantime, WDC’s rescue teams are searching for his family pod. The little guy, who the team have named Toa, is believed to be only a few months old and it is hoped the rest of his family are still in the area, so they can be reunited.

Whale Poo & the Planet

According to a new report recently released by The International Whaling Commission, whales play a huge part in helping to mitigate climate change.  Thanks in no small part to their poo!

The report states that whales contribute to ocean productivity and the balance of the marine ecosystem via both their poo (which can positively impact fishing yields) and their large bodies (which act as sponges to soak up carbon and so help to combat climate change).

WDC has concluded that we now know beyond doubt that by protecting whales and helping whale populations to recover from whaling, bycatch, pollution and ship strikes, we are enabling them to effectively heal the ocean and provide a nature-based solution to the climate and ecological emergencies. 

The report also highlights the negative environmental impact of the declining whale population as a result of commercial whaling (with nearly three million whales slaughtered in the 20th century alone), which significantly diminishes the ability of whales to mitigate climate change. 

The overall lesson to be learned is that these massive creatures play a massive part in the preservation of our oceans and the health of our shared planet as a whole.  With this in mind, there clearly needs to be a significant shift in the treatment of whales by humans: from the slaughter and neglect of these magnificent creatures, to safe-guarding them and helping them to thrive and, in doing so, save the planet.

Norwegian Whale Slaughter

The annual hunting of Minke Whales in Norway began on 1 April 2021, with whale hunters continuing to slaughter large numbers of Minke throughout the duration of the hunting season.

WDC confirmed that last summer marked a four-year high, with 503 whales killed. However, this year, the whalers seem intent on carrying out a record killing spree, having already killed over 400 whales by the end of June. With the season set to continue until October, sadly the whalers appear to be on target to beat last year’s figure and to reach their self-allocated quota of 1,278 whales killed.

Over the past decade, Norwegian whalers have killed more whales than either Japan or Iceland – some years, more than both those countries combined.

A study commissioned by WDC has revealed that demand for whale meat is falling in Norway. Only 4% of Norwegians surveyed said that they ate whale meat ‘often’. As a result, the government in Norway heavily subsidies the industry to keep it afloat.

The sad fact is that whale hunting is inhumane and causes immense suffering. A 2018 report submitted to the International Whaling Commission by Norwegian authorities revealed that almost a fifth of the whales shot by grenade-tipped harpoons suffer for up to 25 minutes before dying.  Over two-thirds of the whales killed are females and many of them are pregnant, so this is a tragedy from a conservation as well as a moral perspective.

It has been scientifically proven that whales are our allies in the fight against climate change. They act as carbon sponges, storing large amounts of carbon in their bodies over decades, preventing it from forming into climate-damaging carbon dioxide. They also contribute to a healthy marine ecosystem. So, if we protect whales, we protect ourselves and the planet. 

Sri Lanka Oil Spill

WDC has reported that experts are increasingly concerned at the plight of a Singapore-registered cargo ship, the X-Press Pearl, laden with nitric acid and other chemicals, which was ablaze for almost a fortnight off the coast of Negombo, near the capital, Colombo, on the west coast of Sri Lanka. This area is incredibly rich in marine life, including many species of whales and dolphins such as blue whales, sperm whales and several species of dolphin.

As recently reported by the media, hundreds of tonnes of oil have been washed from the vessel, with oil, chemicals and plastic debris having been leaked into the water, causing dead marine mammals to have started washing ashore.

This is an environmental disaster with long-term consequences. The oil, chemicals and plastic spilling from the vessel have polluted the pristine beaches and pose a significant threat to the local marine creatures and wildlife.

Sadly, aside from the clean-up attempts which have been undertaken, there is nothing that can be done in this part of Sri Lanka.  However, we can only hope that vital lessons have been learned to prevent such environmental tragedies from occurring in the future.

Are you inspired?

Hopefully, this piece has inspired you to do your bit to help our marine mammal friends.  All you need to do is browse our wide range of gorgeous Apple Watch Straps and get buying.  Not only will you be getting a premium product, you’ll also be getting a warm fuzzy feeling inside from knowing that WDC will receive 25% of your payment, all of which will be used to help carry out their vital conservation work.