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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...

Tag, you’re (a nitw)it!

On May 1st, a stranded minke whale found on a New Jersey beach was “tagged” with what appear to be Greek Letters-a frat prank perhaps? While “tagging” a whale may seem like a harmless prank, it’s harmful to conservation and dangerous to the “tagger.”

I have personally written on many dead marine mammals but only when they can’t be removed from the beach.  This ensures that the same animals aren’t reported over and over again to the stranding networks as new cases.  The key is that I did so AFTER examining the animal and while wearing the proper safety gear. 

Stranded marine mammals are thoroughly examined for signs of injuries which can be subtle.  Painting the carcass can conceal a mark that may help researchers understand what happened to the animal.  Injuries consistent with vessel strikes, or entanglements, can help managers understand where areas of high risk are, and help create measures to reduce those risks. 

But perhaps the taggers are not into protecting whales and aren’t worried if they concealed injuries on the carcass.  Maybe then they should worry if they were protected when they got close to a dead whale.  Whales are mammals and, as such, we share more than the air we both breathe; we share the same risk of infection from a number of bacteria that can lead to nasty and, if not properly treated, deadly diseases.   Brucella, for example, is a fascinating encapsulated bacteria that can be transmitted to humans. If you’re lucky, it leaves you achy, depressed and unable to be a blood donor.  If you’re not so lucky, then you can only hope that whomever finds your body doesn’t have a can of spray paint in hand when they do.