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Dead sperm whale in The Wash, East Anglia, England. © CSIP-ZSL.

What have dead whales ever done for us?

When dead whales wash up on dry land they provide a vital food source for...
Risso's dolphin © Andy Knight

We’re getting to know Risso’s dolphins in Scotland so we can protect them

Citizen scientists in Scotland are helping us better understand Risso's dolphins by sending us their...
Pilot whales pooing © Christopher Swann

Talking crap and carcasses to protect our planet

We know we need to save the whale to save the world because they are...
Fin whales are targeted by Icelandic whalers

Speaking truth to power – my week giving whales a voice

The International Whaling Commission (IWC) meeting is where governments come together to make decisions about whaling...

Why do whales and dolphins strand on beaches?

People often ask me 'why' whales and dolphins do one thing or another.  I'm a...
A spinner dolphin leaping © Andrew Sutton/Eco2

Head in a spin – my incredible spinner dolphin encounter

Sri Lanka is home to at least 30 species of whales and dolphins, from the...
Sperm whale (physeter macrocephalus) Gulf of California. The tail of a sperm whale.

To protect whales, we must stop ignoring the high seas

Almost two-thirds of the ocean, or 95% of the habitable space on Earth, are sloshing...
WDC team at UN Ocean conference

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

I'm looking out over the River Tejo in Lisbon, Portugal, reflecting on the astounding resilience...

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