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Majestic fin whales

Icelandic whalers kill first fin whales in four years

As feared, whale hunters in Iceland have slaughtered at least two fin whales, the first...
Humpback whale underwater

Humpback whale rescued from shark net in Australia

A humpback whale and her calf have managed to escape after becoming entangled in a...
Humpback whales in Alaska

Pumps and conveyor belts. How could more whales help save us?

We are excited to announce backing for two ground-breaking research projects to assess the little...
Amazon River dolphin (Boto)

River dolphins observed playing with anaconda

Researchers in Bolivia recorded an unusual interaction between local rivers dolphins and an anaconda snake...
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  • All policy news
  • Create healthy seas
  • End captivity
  • Prevent deaths in nets
  • Stop whaling
  • Strandings

Minke whale hunts stop in Iceland

Iceland’s commercial hunt of minke whales has ended for this year. The common minke whale is the...
Port River dolphins

New report reveals 100,000 dolphins and small whales hunted every year

When you hear the words ‘dolphin hunts’ it’s likely that you think of Japan or...

Japan set to resume commercial whaling

Reports from Japan suggest that the government they will formally propose plans to resume commercial...

End the whale hunts! Icelandic fin whaler isolated as public mood shifts

Here’s a sight I hoped never again to witness. A boat being scrubbed and repainted...

Australian Government to block Japanese whaling proposal

Japanese Government officials have reportedly confirmed that they will propose the resumption of commercial whaling...

Pregnant whales once again a target for Japanese whalers

Figures from Japan's whaling expedition to Antarctica during the 2017/18 austral summer have revealed that...

Did Icelandic whalers really kill a blue whale?

*Warning - this blog contains an image that you may find upsetting* They say a...

Icelandic whalers breach international law and kill iconic, protected whale by mistake

Icelandic whalers out hunting fin whales for the first time in three years appear to...

Doubts remain after Icelandic Marine Institute claims slaughtered whale was a hybrid not a blue

Experts remain sceptical of initial test results issued by the Icelandic Marine Institute, which indicate...

Norway's whaling season begins

April 1st saw the start of the whaling season in Norway. Despite a widely-accepted international moratorium...

Norway increases whaling quota despite declining demand

Norway's government has announced an increase in the number of minke whales that can be...

Icelandic fin whale hunting to resume

Iceland’s only fin whaling company, Hvalur hf,  announced today that it will resume fin whaling...

Ships Slow to Help Orcas

Large ships are being asked to slow down this summer and fall while traversing an area of critical habitat for the endangered Southern Resident orca community.  The Port of Vancouver’s initiative known as “Enhancing Cetacean Habitat and Observation,” or the ECHO Program, is dedicated to mitigating threats to endangered whales from shipping activities.

They are starting with a unique vessel slowdown trial to see if reduced speeds can decrease the underwater noise received by the Southern Resident orcas.  Large ships regularly pass through Haro Strait on the west side of San Juan Island, an area considered to be a historical foraging hotspot for the orcas.  Ships will be asked to slow their speed to 11 knots, and hydrophones will be used to record underwater noise for comparison to current levels. 

This trial ship slowdown follows last year’s approval of the Kinder Morgan Trans-Mountain pipeline project, which would send hundreds of oil tankers from Vancouver, Canada through Southern Resident orca critical habitat per year; Canada’s National Energy Board estimates that resultant oil tanker traffic would increase from 5 vessels to 34 per month – a 700% escalation.

Vessel impacts such as ocean noise and disturbance are considered to be one of the top threats to the critically endangered Southern Resident orca population, now down to just 78 individuals.  Increasing noise in their habitat makes it more difficult for the orcas to find their preferred food, salmon – also an endangered species that is becoming more scarce and difficult to find.  A lack of food and a noisy environment increases stress to individuals in the population, and further exacerbates the effect of biotoxins present in the bodies of the orcas.  The synergistic impact of threats has reduced the survival and reproductive capacity of the Southern Resident orca community, and requires an ecosystem-based approach to recovery strategies.

“The trial slowdown will be an interesting project to explore mitigating the impact of noise on the Southern Resident orcas, and may help to reduce current stress from this particular threat,” says WDC’s Rekos Orca Fellow, Colleen Weiler, “but it will not be enough to negate the expected increase in large vessel traffic from the Kinder Morgan expansion.  These orcas are already living on the brink of extinction; we need to focus on reducing the impacts of current threats, not worry about adding more stress to their lives.”