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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...
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...

New studies reveal impact of navy sonar on whales

Two new published studies in the scientific journals Proceedings B and Biology Letters, reveal how simulated navy sonar can disturb the behaviour of blue whales and beaked whales.

Despite often being considered an ‘emerging threat’ to whales and dolphins, noise pollution has been on the agenda since the 1980s – more than 30 years now. And despite the ever increasing evidence of impacts to whales and dolphins, there has been very little movement towards effective protection.

This latest evidence of military sonar impacts – firstly in those deep diving beaked whale species that we already knew were highly susceptible to stranding as a result of sonar activities, and now evidence suggests that sonar ‘significantly affects the feeding behaviour’ of the most endangered baleen species, the mighty blue whale.

And alongside these important new publications on military sonar impacts, a monumental court decision in the US this month also determined that mitigation for seismic surveys in the Gulf of Mexico are woefully inadequate.

Current ‘best practise’ guidelines deal only with injury at short distances from the source and often only at the start of activities (it is ‘assumed that animals will move away to protect themselves). They are woefully inadequate. These guidelines do nothing to mitigate the wide spread behavioural affects that whales and dolphins, and other marine life, are suffering with, on a daily basis, in the seas around us – affecting their feeding, their fitness, increasing stranding risk and the health of whole populations.

Noise producers and governments of the world have a responsibility to protect our marine life and conserve populations. Noise guidelines do not protect individuals from injury and they do not protect populations from wide scale behavioural impacts that may have population consequences.

In the UK we understand the JNCC (the public body that advises the UK Government on nature conservation) seismic guidelines will be reviewed this year. The JNCC guidelines were one of the first to be produced globally and are often looked upon as being world leading. We wonder how all this evidence of impact, compiled since the last review of the guidelines, will be used to inform their updating.

A step change to ensure effective mitigation of intense noise pollution is long overdue.

Find out more about pollution and read our report – Oceans of Noise.