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Vaquita. Photo Thomas Jefferson

Scientific Committee gives first ever official species extinction warning

Photo: Thomas Jefferson We have welcomed the urgent call by experts to protect the vaquita...
blue whale

Whale fossil from Peru may have been heavier than blue whale

Scientists examining the bones of a 39 million-year-old ancient whale have concluded that it may...
Humpback whale © Christopher Swann

Humpback whales breach in synchronisation

Humpback whales are renowned for their incredible acrobatic displays, but a family in the USA...
Long-finned pilot whale

Unusual activity witnessed before pilot whale stranding

Just days after a pod of long-finned pilot whales stranded on an island in the...
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  • All policy news
  • Create healthy seas
  • End captivity
  • Prevent deaths in nets
  • Stop whaling
  • Strandings
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...

Minke whale hunts stop in Iceland

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

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...

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...

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...

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...

Icelandic fin whale hunting to resume

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

Norway increases whaling quota despite declining demand

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

Norway's whaling season begins

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

Scottish government proposes new protected areas for marine life, including whales and dolphins

After years of campaigning by WDC and others, the Scottish government announced today that it is considering the creation of four new marine protected areas (MPAs) around its coastline, which will now go out for public consultation. 

WDC first proposed the three sites that include Risso’s dolphins and minke whales back in 2011. Thanks to the help of our supporters, WDC was able to provide 36,000 signatures and supporting scientific evidence to Richard Lochhead (then Cabinet Secretary for the Environment in Scotland) in 2012. We congratulate the current Cabinet Secretary, Roseanna Cunningham, for bringing these proposed MPAs to consultation, and Scottish Natural Heritage and Marine Scotland for their work in getting them to this stage. 

Whilst whales and dolphins are ‘strictly protected’ in all Scottish waters, Scotland contains some areas where significant aggregations of both species occur and these areas are essential to important activities such as raising calves, feeding and breeding. Oversight of all activities in these areas will ensure that minke whales, Risso’s dolphins and other species that rely on these important habitats can thrive.

Welcoming the news, WDC’s Policy manager in Scotland, Sarah Dolman, said: “WDC is thrilled with this announcement and we applaud the Scottish Government for taking this important step. Whales and dolphins are an essential and much loved part of Scotland’s marine environment and heritage. Designation and management of these MPAs will put Scotland on the centre stage for mobile species MPA protection and will contribute to an increasingly impressive MPA network. WDC are very proud to have proposed the three mobile species MPAs back in 2011, and to work with the local communities that help us to collect the data and the supporters who have written in support of these MPAs.

WDC has been studying the Risso’s dolphins on Lewis since 2010, where we run boat surveys to understand the calving and feeding behaviour and where one of our Shorewatch community groups record sightings all year-round from Tiumpan Head on North East Lewis, overlooking the Minch.

We see a number of Risso’s dolphins repeatedly in the same area over the years, including Lucky (a female who has a badly disfigured dorsal fin – likely the result of an interaction with a propellor) first seen by scientists in 2005 and resighted by WDC team in 2011 (accompanied by a calf of only a few months old) and again in 2015. 

Nicola Hodgins, who leads the Isle of Lewis research for WDC, said: “Initial analysis of the photo-identification of the Risso’s dolphins that use the area designated as a “proposed MPA” off the NE of Lewis has provided evidence of a high rate of site-fidelity (meaning individual dolphins return to this same area year after year). Some, like Lucky, are returning with calves, others accompanied by the same pod mates as years before. One thing is for sure, this habitat is extremely important for all of them, providing opportunities for feeding, socialising and raising their young.”

The four proposed areas are:

North East Lewis proposed MPA (includes Risso’s dolphins)
Sea of the Hebrides proposed MPA (includes minke whales)  
Southern Trench proposed MPA (includes minke whales)
Shiant East Bank proposed MPA

WDC has worked closely with our Scottish marine conservation colleagues at through Scottish Environment Link to get these MPAs in place.