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Dead sperm whale in The Wash, East Anglia, England. © CSIP-ZSL.

What have dead whales ever done for us?

When dead whales wash up on dry land they provide a vital food source for...
Risso's dolphin © Andy Knight

We’re getting to know Risso’s dolphins in Scotland so we can protect them

Citizen scientists in Scotland are helping us better understand Risso's dolphins by sending us their...
Pilot whales pooing © Christopher Swann

Talking crap and carcasses to protect our planet

We know we need to save the whale to save the world because they are...
Fin whales are targeted by Icelandic whalers

Speaking truth to power – my week giving whales a voice

The International Whaling Commission (IWC) meeting is where governments come together to make decisions about whaling...

Why do whales and dolphins strand on beaches?

People often ask me 'why' whales and dolphins do one thing or another.  I'm a...
A spinner dolphin leaping © Andrew Sutton/Eco2

Head in a spin – my incredible spinner dolphin encounter

Sri Lanka is home to at least 30 species of whales and dolphins, from the...
Sperm whale (physeter macrocephalus) Gulf of California. The tail of a sperm whale.

To protect whales, we must stop ignoring the high seas

Almost two-thirds of the ocean, or 95% of the habitable space on Earth, are sloshing...
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...

Small fish in a BIG pond?!

It’s been over a week now since I took the ‘plunge’ and decided to enter the Banff Bay swim on behalf of WDC (https://www.justgiving.com/ruthclark). Had I known quite how hard it was going to be to even get a wetsuit on let alone swim in it, I’m not sure I would have felt quite so reassured by the prospect of wearing one. I spent a good two hours trying on various sorts and sizes (in a very hot and stuffy changing room) and after much deliberation I came out super excited to go and try it out in the sea for real, but with a little less skin on the back of my hands! I quickly realized, however, that swimming in it is a different matter altogether! And it wasn’t long before I had a very uncomfortable neck too. It certainly kept me warm though; there is no doubt about that….so much so that I’m tempted to try a swim without it?!…..I will let you know how that goes next week!

 

I have managed to fit in a couple of swims so far, each with varying degrees of confidence. The first was more of a paddle than a swim; forgetting the influence of that giant thing in the sky we call a moon! With a little more planning, the second attempt was more successful; the initial anxiety of being eaten by a shark faded away and I settled into a good rhythm, enjoying the scenery of the sea bed. Yesterday however, I was reminded of the stark contrast of the underwater world with murky water and swell making it very difficult to see and keep a direct course. It really got me thinking about what it must be like for creatures living in the water and how sound is such an important adaptation to their very existence. Noise pollution is one of the biggest threats to cetaceans and marine mammals around the world, with seismic surveys for oil and gas, pile driving for offshore construction and military sonar, affecting their ability to navigate, hunt for food and communicate with each other. Not to mention the disturbance caused by busy shipping lanes and increased boat traffic, as highlighted in the recent incident in Cornwall last week. There is a way forward though, and WDC is working hard with other organizations to establish Marine Protected Areas (MPAs) in critical and breeding and feeding grounds around the world. It’s just one of many reasons that I feel passionate about supporting the work the WDC is carrying out to improve the chances of survival for these special creatures…

 

Despite the challenges I faced this week; there was something quite magical about being in the water, surrounded by the elegant pattern of raindrops and frantic diving Tern’s just metres from my path. It felt fantastic to be so close to nature and I can’t wait to see what the next swim will hold!! Stay ‘afloat’ for the next instalment!!