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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...

Snow White Whales

Moby Dick may be the most famous white whale, but belugas are the true snowy natives of the sea.  They don’t always have their strikingly bright skin shade, however.  Belugas are born dark blueish or brownish gray, and gradually lighten as they age, until they are the solid white that they’re famous for.  Even then, they keep some of the darker pigment around the very edges of their flukes and flippers.  Their bright white appearance is an adaptation that helps them blend in among the arctic ice, giving them a little extra protection from predators’ eyes. 

Baby belugas in captivity are still born with their dark coloring, but captive breeding attempts have been largely unsuccessful, and most babies don’t survive to develop their famous beluga coloring.  The dwindling captive population is the main impetus behind this effort to import wild belugas.  The Georgia Aquarium wants to import these wild belugas to maintain the captive population of belugas in the US; they’re taking 18 individuals away from the only life they’ve known – in the wild, wide ocean – and putting them in tanks, all in the name of genetic diversity.  Prior to this effort, there have been no attempts to import wild whales and dolphins into captivity for 20 years.  Taking these belugas out of the wild is not a conservation issue – 18 healthy individuals are being removed from their homes and family groups; some of the belugas were so young when they were taken, they may have still been nursing.  These belugas should never know captivity after experiencing normal life in the wild, and their babies shouldn’t be born in tanks, where they have a very low chance of survival.

For this week’s sponsor, we’re telling Microsoft, a company that strives to incorporate their environmental principles into their business relationships, that we don’t want these wild belugas to know life inside a tank.  Tell them: “Microsoft, you want to be a leader in environmental responsibility – putting wild whales in captivity is not responsible! Don’t support the Georgia Aquarium’s effort to import wild Russian belugas!

Thanks for helping belugas stay safe and free, and see you next week for your next beluga fun fact!