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WDC team at UN Ocean conference

Give the ocean a chance – our message from the UN Ocean Conference

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We need whale poo 📷 WDC NA

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Humpback whale underwater

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Black Sea common dolphins © Elena Gladilina

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Minke whale © Ursula Tscherter - ORES

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Boto © Fernando Trujillo

Meet the legendary pink river dolphins

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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...

Update on Shanghai belugas

WDC (Whale and Dolphin Conservation) is continuing to work with Merlin Entertainments to identify a permanent solution to secure a better future for three belugas currently housed at Shanghai Oceanworld in China, including their possible release back into the sea.

Both WDC and Merlin remain committed to trying to give these belugas a more natural life. However, it has proven very challenging to find a safe and suitable site. Not least, because the removal of these whales from their current location, and possible placement back into the wild is a hugely complex logistical operation. The challenges involved have been highlighted recently when, having identified a potential location in Russia (after months of negotiation and a substantial amount of research), the site has proven unsuitable. Our team is now actively looking at alternative locations. This includes engaging with local, national and international decision-makers and other stakeholders to make this ambitious project a reality.

The belugas cannot simply be airlifted out of Shanghai and dropped into an ocean.  As with any whale or dolphin held for a length of time in captivity, the process requires a period of detailed assessment by an expert team to ascertain how suitable they are for transportation and release back into the wild.   Assuming this goes well, and the whales are suitable for release, this needs to be in an area where the belugas would naturally be found, there is minimal threat to their continued survival; and ideally there is a possibility that they could re-join a suitable natural population. Prior to release, the belugas will need to undergo possibly lengthy rehabilitation in a sanctuary-type environment that provides optimal conditions for their health and welfare. Developing the necessary infrastructure, bringing together the expert team and obtaining official approvals from the local, national and international authorities concerned can also be costly and complex. 

We will, of course, keep you updated on progress surrounding the latest negotiations.

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