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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...

Arctic Adaptations

It can be very hard to find whales in the wild – they spend very little time at the surface, and not much of their body comes out of the water when they do break the line between our world and theirs.  The bright white bodies of beluga whales are easy to see from a distance when they are at the surface, but they usually appear as tiny white dots that emerge and are gone again in as little as three seconds – maybe it was just an ice floe!  Belugas lack a distinguishing feature that helps whale-watchers find other species (like orcas) at the water’s surface – a dorsal fin!  Belugas (and their cousin, the narwhal) are among the small number of whale species that don’t have fins on their back. 

For these arctic animals, lacking a dorsal fin provides a number of advantages in their unique environment: it cuts down on surface area, preventing heat loss, and allows them to travel closely under ice sheets.  Instead of the fin, belugas have a prominent dorsal ridge on their back – a firm crest that may be used to break open breathing holes in arctic ice sheets.

 

These belugas lack dorsal fins, an important adaptation in arctic waters.

This week, we’re asking home improvement mega-chain Home Depot to help keep these ice-adapted animals in the arctic waters where they belong.  On their website, Home Depot asserts that they “exercise good judgment by ‘doing the right thing’ instead of just ‘doing things right.’ We strive to understand the impact of our decisions, and we accept responsibility for our actions.”  Let’s encourage Home Depot to live up to their own high standards – send an email to tell them: “Home Depot, do the right thing and don’t sponsor Georgia Aquarium’s attempt to import wild belugas.  Whales belong in the wild!

 

Our campaign to target the sponsors of the Georgia Aquarium is winding down, but we still have a few weeks to go, and we’ve had good feedback from some of the sponsors!  By sharing your thoughts with them, you are encouraging them to learn more about the issue of captivity and exactly what they’re supporting when they sponsor the Georgia Aquarium, and they are reconsidering that decision!  See you next week for our next beluga fun fact!