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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...

Climate Change data versus “parallel science”- it’s time for us to face the facts

When a representative of the office of U.S. Senator Harry Reid (D-NV) called to invite WDC to participate in a Congressional Briefing on climate change, we were both honored and eager to attend.  Living at the Extremes: Geoscience Research at the Coolest Places on Earth, was co-sponsored by Senator Reid and Senator Ed Markey’s (D-MA) offices and involved many special guests, including Senator Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI), Senator Angus King (I-ME),  Under Secretary of Commerce for Oceans and Atmosphere and NOAA Administrator, Dr. Kathryn  Sullivan, and more. 

Often times the media capitalizes on soundbites of U.S. elected officials denying climate change, but the soundbites from yesterday’s hearing included impassioned words from members of the U.S. Senate and their guests about rising sea levels, droughts and global impacts, and our collective responsibility to raise awareness about this issue.  It was refreshing to hear an elected official not only acknowledge climate change, but publically acknowledge the “parallel science” (as Senator Sheldon Whitehouse referred to it) which is used to discredit the data pointing to this very real man-made threat.  In fact, the Administration has created an opportunity for those that wish to call out those elected officials that deny climate change is real. 

While the hearing largely focused on research from the polar-regions, it did provide WDC with an opportunity to raise the need to further consider the impacts of climate change on whales and dolphins.   In fact, we were able to point to the National Marine Fisheries Service largely dismissing the impacts of climate change on northern hemisphere humpback whales in its biological review, the reference document used by the Agency to propose delisting most humpback populations from the Endangered Species Act. 


The impacts of climate change on whales and dolphins are both direct (e.g. changes in prey availability and distribution) and indirect (e.g. changes in distribution can increase risks of entanglement and vessel strikes).  Entanglements and vessel strikes are already taking their toll on western North Atlantic humpback whales, including Spinnaker, who sadly died last week after having been entangled in fishing gear on three different occasions over her 11 years of life.  To ignore that climate change is a very real risk to western North Atlantic humpback whales is a form of “parallel science”. 

Please ask the National Marine Fisheries Service to keep protections for western North Atlantic humpback whales in place- they are still endangered!

Humpbacks in Greenland

Image courtesy of M. Kopp