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WDC team at UN Ocean conference

Give the ocean a chance – our message from the UN Ocean Conference

I'm looking out over the River Tejo in Lisbon, Portugal, reflecting on the astounding resilience...
We need whale poo ? WDC NA

Whales are our climate allies – meet the scientists busy proving it

At Whale and Dolphin Conservation, we're working hard to bring whales and the ocean into...
Humpback whale underwater

Climate giants – how whales can help save the world

We know that whales, dolphins and porpoises are amazing beings with complex social and family...
Black Sea common dolphins © Elena Gladilina

The dolphin and porpoise casualties of the war in Ukraine

Rare, threatened subspecies of dolphins and porpoises live in the Black Sea along Ukraine's coast....
Minke whale © Ursula Tscherter - ORES

The whale trappers are back with their cruel experiment

Anyone walking past my window might have heard my groan of disbelief at the news...
Boto © Fernando Trujillo

Meet the legendary pink river dolphins

Botos don't look or live like other dolphins. Flamingo-pink all over with super-skinny snouts and...
Risso's dolphin entangled in fishing line and plastic bags - Andrew Sutton

The ocean is awash with plastic – can we ever clean it up?

You've seen pictures of plastic litter accumulating on beaches or marine wildlife swimming through floating...
Fin whale

Is this the beginning of the end for whaling off Iceland?

I'm feeling cautiously optimistic after Iceland's Fisheries Minister Svandís Svavarsdóttir wrote that there is little...

Environmental Movements: Old & New

When doing outreach events we often stress there is little difference between what happens on land and what happens to the oceans. No matter where you live, your actions impact not only your local terrestrial environment but your local watershed and eventually the ocean and its inhabitants. So in honor of World Oceans Day, we asked one of this year’s amazing interns, Caitlin Karniski, to do us the honor of reminding us about one of the original environmental movements and the importance of individual actions in making a difference. We are sure that Caitlin is going to go on and make a huge difference in the marine mammal field…..

A little more than midway into my internship at WDCS, I was fortunate enough to attend a celebration of the 50th anniversary of the publication of Rachel Carson’s Silent Spring. Widely credited as the singular publication to help launch the environmental movement in 1962, Silent Spring exposes the detrimental effects on the environment of pesticides, particularly highlighting the deaths of birds due to the insecticide DDT. What most people may not know about Silent Spring however, is that it was sparked by a letter to Rachel Carson by her friend Olga Owens Huckins that chronicled the deaths of birds around her home in Duxbury, Massachusetts. As the anniversary celebrations were being held on the preserved property of Ms. Huckins’ home, I was especially excited to tour the grounds and imagine the view that sparked such an important book, and to see what had changed. I read Silent Spring in college, around the time I was changing majors from English to Biology, and was inspired by Carson’s perfect balance of sound science and impassioned urging in her writing. It’s something I continued to strive towards in my career in marine biology. 

My tour of the property grounds was joined by fellow WDCS intern Jess Simpson and Scott Leonard and Michelle Perkins of the Nantucket Marine Mammal Conservation Program, our wonderful hosts when we attended the Nantucket Biodiversity Initiative (NBI) the week before. My imagination was running wild as I walked through the lush landscape and pictured how the startling disappearance of birds (which I am happy to report, appear to now be doing well) caught the attention of Rachel Carson. Our bird walk was lead by the renowned naturalist and field guide author Peter Alden, who we also had the pleasure of spending time with during the NBI.

Another draw of the event was a panel discussion of Silent Spring that included Dr. Roger Payne, the famous biologist credited along with research partner Scott McVay in discovering the song of the humpback whale. I had watched the documentary A Life Among Whales featuring Dr. Payne just a few weeks before learning I would be attending the event, and had mentally added him to my growing list of scientists who inspire me. It was very meaningful to listen to the various environmental leaders and authors describe what Silent Spring means to them and how this influential book affected each of their lives on both a professional and personal level.

I was delighted to meet Dr. Payne following the event, and hear his advice for a budding scientist such as myself. I truly appreciated his thoughtful words and clearly passionate concern for the marine environment. I was also extremely impressed with the participation of the attendees, each of whom stressed the importance of accomplishing local sustainability measures and practical ways to achieve them. This event truly encompassed what it means to “think globally, and act locally.” This maxim is at the forefront of my mind on World Oceans Day, as I am reminded of our connection and dependence upon our oceans—which I believe play a bigger part in our lives than most of us may realize.