Skip to content
All articles
  • All articles
  • About whales & dolphins
  • Create healthy seas
  • End captivity
  • Green Whale
  • Prevent deaths in nets
  • Scottish Dolphin Centre
  • Stop whaling
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...
Mykines Lighthouse, Faroe Islands

Understanding whale and dolphin hunts in the Faroe Islands – why change is not easy

Most people in my home country of the Faroe Islands would like to see an...

Dolphin scientists look like you and me – citizen science in action

Our amazing volunteers have looked out for dolphins from the shores of Scotland more than...
Atlantic white-sided dolphins

The Faroes dolphin slaughter that sparked an outcry now brings hope

Since the slaughter of at least 1,423 Atlantic white-sided dolphins at Skálafjørður in my home...
Fin whale

From managing commercial slaughter to saving the whale – the International Whaling Commission at 75

Governments come together under the auspices of the International Whaling Commission (IWC) to make decisions...

Scientist Statement Opposing the Beluga Imports by the Georgia Aquarium

Marine mammal scientist, including WDC, jointly submitted comments to the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) recommending the denial of Georgia Aquarium’s application for authorization to import 18 wild-caught beluga whales into the US for public display. Here is a summary of the submitted comments:
We object to the Georgia Aquarium’s permit application on the grounds that the proposed transport and confinement of wild beluga whales are inhumane and present an unnecessary risk to the health and welfare of these animals and are, thus, a violation of the Marine Mammal Protection Act.

Handling and transport produces an increase in stress hormones whales and dolphins and chronic stress can lead to immunosuppression and susceptibility to disease. Furthermore, handling and transport increases mortality risk and beluga deaths during ground transport have occurred in the past.For these belugas, the transport plan includes a flight from Russia to Belgium where each beluga will be transfer to a new container and plane for further transport to the states. This additional step is unusual for a cetacean transport. We find the permit applicant’s claim that “switching carriers and aircraft is an added step, but it poses no additional risk” to the animals to be disingenuous. We believe that these whales will be subjected to exceptional levels of handling and transport stress, solely for unclear logistical, rather than veterinary or biological, reasons. If these belugas do survive the exceptionally rigorous transport, they are then subjected to captivity where in the best cases belugas experience life history trajectories that match but do not improve on those of free-ranging belugas. Given that the sources of mortality in the two environments must differ, it is highly plausible that the primary cause of mortality in captive belugas is related to stress, which would be long-term or chronic in a captive situation. Given the known deleterious effect of chronic stress on immune function, it is plausible to argue that captive belugas lead less healthy lives than their wild counterparts, both psychologically and physically, which would explain why, despite protection from natural hazards, they do not live longer in captivity.
No import of cetaceans deliberately captured for a US facility has occurred in 20 years. Therefore, we find the Georgia Aquarium’s action of sourcing belugas directly from the wild regressive. Given the prolonged transport being proposed, which will require mid-journey transfers to different containers and planes, we also find this proposal inhumane. Once again we urge the NMFS to deny this permit application.You can still submit your comments to NOAA