Threats to Whales and Dolphins
Cetaceans are intelligent, air breathing, highly evolved mammals with complex societies and systems of communication. Some species are curious about, and friendly towards, people, and we in turn are charmed by their beauty and grace. Yet careless and destructive practices and a lack of respect for our Planet Ocean may cause many species to disappear forever.” (dolphins.org)
Despite efforts in recent decades to reverse the trend toward near extinction to many cetaceans, the future of whales and dolphins continues to be in peril by a number of preventable threats. Threats to whales and dolphins include:
- Entanglement in fishing gear (By-catch)
- Climate change
- Ship collisions
- Toxic contamination
- Oil and gas development
- Habitat degradation
(source: World Wildlife Federation)
Pollution is THE most serious threat facing marine mammals today.
According to Greenpeace.org:
Our oceans have become a dumping ground for a wide variety of pollutants, including pesticides and nutrients from agriculture, sewage, industrial discharges, urban and industrial run-off, accidents, spillage, explosions, sea dumping operations, mining, waste heat sources, and radioactive discharges.”
Even if it is not directly dumped into the ocean, much of our garbage and harmful chemicals can end up there by runoff or leaching into our waterways from landfills. At least 43% of all marine mammal species become entangled in or ingest marine debris each year. (source: dolphins.org) Don’t be deceived – anything you throw away can end up as marine debris. Land-based runoff, air pollutants, ocean dumping, PCBs – all these weaken the immune systems of dolphins and whales, making them more susceptible to serious bacterial and viral infections such as Morbillivirus. Some recent studies have shown that many dolphins are also growing cancerous tumors. View Pollution Threats
Why Conservation and Preservation?
noun 1. the act of conserving; prevention of injury, decay, waste, or loss; preservation; conservation of wildlife; conservation of human rights. 2. official supervision of rivers, forests, and other natural resources in order to preserve and protect them through prudent management.
verb (used with object), preserved, preserving 1. to keep alive or in existence; make lasting. 2. to keep safe from harm or injury; protect or spare. Consider that 75% of the earth’s surface is covered by water. We ought to be concerned about conserving and preserving what the Dolphin Research Center appropriately deems “Planet Ocean.” As humans (the most advanced life forms in existence), our actions have a direct impact on all creatures on earth, especially marine mammals.
Your actions DO make a difference!
What You Can Do To Help
Here are some ways you can make a difference to marine mammals (and trust us, it DOES make a difference!):
- The 3 Rs: Reduce, Reuse, Recycle
- Use natural (non-toxic) household cleaning products and laundry detergent (vinegar and baking soda can be used to clean a lot of things!)
- Use natural products for weed and pest control
- Avoid the purchase and use of plastics
- Cut up 6-pack rings before throwing them away
- Take reusable shopping bags to the store rather than using plastic bags – Plastic bags are one of the top sources of marine debris.
- Buy unpackaged food
- Buy in bulk
- Support your local farmers markets
- Don’t release balloons
- Reuse bottles or mugs for drinking water, soda, or coffee
- Buy plastic toys from garage sales, thrift stores or consignment shops (wash them with borax or another natural soap)
- Throw away your trash and discourage littering
- If you see trash on the ground, pick it up and throw it away – It’s your good deed for the day!
- Don’t smoke – Not only is it bad for your health, but cigarettes contribute to air pollution AND cigarette butts are one of the top sources of marine debris.
You can also:
- Participate in coastal cleanup projects
- Volunteer at a wildlife rehabilitation center
- Support environmental groups
- Learn more!
- Tell your friends and teach your kids!