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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...

Turning the tide in St Vincent and the Grenadines

 

St Vincent and the Grenadines (SVG) is a beautiful island nation in the Eastern Caribbean.  Humpback whaling began on Bequia, its second largest island, in 1875 when William Wallace, a Scottish settler, returned to the island after working on an American whaling vessel. He established a whaling company and passed on techniques for hunting both humpback and sperm whales to his crew, later partnering with French settler, Joseph Ollivierre, who also established a whaling station on the island.

SVG joined the International Whaling Commission (IWC) in 1981 and since then, has been awarded a “subsistence quota” for humpback whales, despite the fact that the nation fails to meet the criteria for so-called Aboriginal Subsistence Whaling (ASW).  In this context, a 50-foot female humpback whale was caught off Bequia last week.

Thankfully, the more positive news is that, since the early 1990s, commercial trips to view marine wildlife, have been operating and are steadily increasing in popularity. In recent years, a whale watch training programme has been developed with the help of international experts, in response to a request from two local organisations, the SVG National Trust and the SVG Preservation Fund.

Several species of whale and dolphin are found in the waters of SVG: some are present year-round, including spinner dolphin, pantropical spotted dolphin, bottlenose dolphin, short-finned pilot whale and orca (killer whale); whilst sperm whales and humpback whales are seasonal visitors.

Importantly, these trips have a broad focus and so passengers are encouraged to spot local birdlife as well as keeping a look-out for whales and dolphins.  For example, the ferry crossing from Kingstown (the capital) to Port Elizabeth offers a great chance to watch dolphins; whilst back ashore, visitors can experience the island’s rich history and visit local museums and the old whaling factory.

In January this year, Prime Minister Gonsalves commented: “A lot of our young folk are interested not so much in the actual traditional whaling, but in whale watching, which is a legitimate activity.” He made other encouraging noises in favour of whale watching, which indicate government support for futher developing whale watching in SVG, a move which will enormously benefit local communities as well as the whales.