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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...
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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...

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...

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...

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...

SOS alert for whales off Norway!

I have to admit to bitter disappointment when I arrived in Tromsø, northern Norway, a...

Godzilla is not whale food

Elspeth Shears is a residential volunteer at the WDC Scottish Dolphin Centre in Spey Bay. Our visitor centre is on the Moray Firth, north east Scotland, home to the most northerly population of bottlenose dolphins in the world.

With the Scottish sun shining up above on a beautiful Sunday in Moray, Scotland, more than 60 eager volunteers gathered at WDC’s Scottish Dolphin Centre ready for an afternoon of beach cleaning at Spey Bay to celebrate our partnership with 4Ocean – a company whose bracelets made from recycled ocean plastic help to fund beach cleans around the world, and support the work of charities like WDC. Armed with litter pickers, gloves, rubbish bags and plenty of enthusiasm we donned our bright blue 4Ocean t-shirts and headed out onto the beach.

It is always difficult to know what to expect when undertaking an organised beach clean. What are we going to find? How much rubbish litters our coasts? One thing for certain is that our intentions for the day were clear – to confront the pollution problem we are facing. I think there is something rather special about a group of people coming together for a single cause such as this.

Physically clearing up litter is an integral part of tackling the plastic problem in our oceans.  4Ocean have led their own global clean-up effort for the last couple of years, pulling pounds of litter from the ocean every single day. Plastic that finds its way into the sea poses a real threat to the marine creatures that unknowingly ingest it or become entangled in it. As a charity working to protect whales and dolphins, WDC are raising awareness about the detrimental impacts of marine pollution. Because plastic is Not Whale Food! As two organisations united in the fight against plastic pollution, WDC and 4Ocean joined forces and hosted the beach clean event at the Scottish Dolphin Centre in Spey Bay. 

Between 4.8 and 12.7 million tonnes of plastic enter the sea each year – that’s more than the total weight of every blue whale on the planet – and there are increasing concerns that the amount of plastic in the ocean could triple by 2025. These figures are completely mindboggling to comprehend, emphasising the scale and urgency of this problem.  

56% of all whale and dolphin species, from small fish eating porpoises to the largest filter feeding whales, have been recorded eating plastic that they have mistaken for their natural food source. The issue is that no matter if it’s plankton ingesting micro plastics, or a turtle ingesting an entire plastic bag, plastic can travel all the way up the food chain via a process called bioaccumulation. So, by the time you reach the top of the food chain, species such as whales, dolphins and sharks are left with astonishing levels of toxins in their bodies. 

To tackle this issue and its impact on whales and dolphins across the world, 4Ocean chose WDC to be their monthly cause for May this year, releasing a whale bracelet. These bracelets are made from 100% recycled materials and the profits go to 4Ocean’s ongoing work to clean up our seas. Furthermore, 10% of the profits from their whale bracelet went to WDC to help us keep whales and dolphins safe and free. I feel that the bracelets also succeed in uniting people together, symbolising the passion we share for our ocean environment and the commitment we have to creating cleaner oceans. 

After the best part of an hour spent scouring the beach for plastic we assembled back at the Scottish Dolphin Centre to see the results of our work. The total weight of all the rubbish exceeded 60kg, including a giant model Godzilla, numerous car tyres, lobster pots, reels of chicken wire, drainage piping and a soap dispenser. We can plainly see the outcome of our efforts.  As one volunteer summed up nicely, there was a sense of feeling really proud of what we achieved that day. Not just in terms of the debris we prevented entering the sea and harming all kinds of marine life, but also the positive community that was created as a result. It’s amazing what one group of like-minded individuals can achieve and just how far a bit of good intention can go.

Feeling inspired to join the clean-up movement? Have a go at organising your own beach clean. Around 95% of the plastic in the ocean comes from our towns and cities so even if you don’t live near the coast, you can join in with an Urban Beach Clean and support WDC’s #NotWhaleFood project.