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Conservation and research projects

Working worldwide to protect whales and dolphins and the places where they live.

WDC has thirty years experience funding vital conservation, education and research projects around the globe.

Wherever possible, we work with local communities and a guiding principle of any research is that techniques used must be as uninvasive as possible for the species involved.

Indo-Pacific bottlenose dolphin

Port River dolphins - Adelaide, Australia

Our Adopt a Dolphin programme in Australia is helping to protect this group of dolphins which unusually is living in an urban environment.

Risso's dolphin

Risso’s dolphins
Bardsey Island, Wales

WDC's research provides vital information that is used to support efforts to provide better protection for these dolphins and their home.

Bottlenose dolphin calf

Bottlenose dolphins
Moray Firth, Scotland

For over 25 years, WDC has been at the forefront of conservation efforts to protect these amazing dolphins.

Group of indo-pacific finless porpoises

Indo-Pacific finless porpoises - Hong Kong

Researchers working with local fishermen to learn more about these special porpoises.

Breaching North Atlantic right whale

North Atlantic right whale - Gulf of Maine, USA

WDC is supporting the campaign to protect one of the world’s most endangered whales. Around 400 whales survive.

Risso's dolphin

Risso’s Dolphins
Isle of Lewis, Scotland

WDC’s research has already led to a proposal to create a marine protected area in the waters where these dolphins live.

Orca spyhop

Northern resident orcas - Vancouver Island, Canada

Our Adopt an Orca programme helps support the work of Orcalab, the longest-running orca research project in the world.

Atlantic humpback dolphin group

Atlantic humpback dolphins - Senegal, West Africa

WDC is helping to fund local conservationists working to save these critically endangered dolphins.

Whales, dolphins and their homes.  30 years of success:

North Atlantic right whales - WDC successfully campaigned to get a speed reduction enforced to reduce the threat of ship collisions with whales.

Risso’s Dolphins - Thanks to WDC’s research and campaigning, the Scottish Government has put forward proposals to create a marine protected area where these dolphins are found.

Orcas - Thanks to the efforts of FEROP, it has become increasingly hard to marine parks to replenish their tanks with orcas taken from the wild off the coast of Russia.

Franciscana dolphin calf

Franciscana and Lahille's bottlenose dolphins - Patagonia, Argentina

WDC is supporting Fundacion Cethus and their conservation efforts for these rare species.

Southern right whale

Southern right whales - Argentina

Helping to develop responsible whale watching as these sightings of these whales increase along the coast.

Peale's dolphins with Commerson's dolphins

Commerson's dolphins and Peale's dolphins  - Patagonia, Argentina

WDC has been funding Fundacion Cethus's research and conservation work for over 20 years.

Antarctic minke whale

Whales and dolphins of the Southern Ocean

Working with the International Whaling Commission to learn more about the species found in the waters around Antarctica.

Southern Resident orca

Southern Resident orcas - Washington State, USA

We are supporting efforts to restore habitat for wild salmon, the main food for this endangered group of orcas.

Humpback whale

Humpback whales - Gulf of Maine, USA

Our Adopt a humpback whale programme helps to support our work to protect the whales which return each spring to feed.


Far East Russia Orca Project - Russia

Russian researchers are studying these amazing whales which are still a target for marine parks.

River dolphin exhibition in museum

River dolphins, South America

WDC has been at the forefront of vital river dolphin conservation work for nearly 30 years.

Humpback whale

Humpback whales - Alaska

Supporting ground-breaking research with the first ever study of the "Whale Pump" in the North Pacific.

Gray whale

Great whale conveyor belt

Migrating whales transport and release thousands of tonnes of nutrients, vital for phytoplankton, krill and fish to thrive.

WDC award for innovation and non-invasive research

Benefits of non-invasive research

In a world where technology is advancing in leaps and bounds, WDC is committed to putting the welfare of whales, dolphins and porpoises first and this means doing just that in the field as well as in the corridors of power. There are a variety of tools available to help us understand whales, dolphins and porpoises better and these range in degrees, from relatively benign to highly invasive, for example attaching a satellite tag to a dolphin by drilling holes through the dorsal fin. Whilst recognising that some degree of disturbance is implicit in most research methodologies (except land-based research), and that very few methods are truly benign in the sense that they do not, to some extent, alter or influence the system under measurement, WDC strives to ensure that non-invasive research methods are promoted as a guiding principle, both for the organisation and the researchers that we fund.

Because of this, WDC created an annual Award to help showcase non-invasive research methodologies with up to £5,000 available to the most innovative project. The only restrictions are that the project must utilise non-invasive techniques with the aim of benefitting the conservation management or welfare of whales, dolphins or porpoises.

These methods often enable a more complete picture of whale and dolphin life cycles, interactions and habitat use. Such techniques can be significantly geeky and innovative but must produce reliable science that can be used to make a real difference for species and population conservation and for individual protection.

Through the Award, WDC is keen to highlight the fact that many of these ‘hands-off’ methods provide scientific data of excellent quality, whilst also promoting the development of innovative and non-invasive approaches.

Previous winners

2013 – Samanunu Simpson, Fiji; Acoustic monitoring of a pod of resident spinner dolphins in a Marine Protected Area.

2014 – Sannie Brum, Brazil; Investigating fisheries co-management as a tool to protect Amazon river dolphins.

2015 – Dr. Lindsay Porter, Malaysian Borneo; Assessment of the status of tropical dephinids in the Kinabatangan RAMSAR site and adjacent areas.

2016 - Dr Marie van Bressem, West Africa; Visual health assessment of cetaceans from West Africa.

2017 – Joint recipients:

  1. Anna Breuniche-Olsen, Mexico; Inferring gray whale population characteristics from environmental DNA in seawater.
  2. Shambhu Paudel, Nepal; Using photo-id to understand population size, geographic range and social structure in endangered Ganges river dolphins in Nepal.

2018 – Barbara Galletti, Chile; Using passive acoustic monitoring to find and protect critically endangered eastern south Pacific southern right whales.

Help protect whales and dolphins and their homes

By adopting a dolphin or by making a donation, you can help us save these amazing creatures.

Indo-Pacific bottlenose dolphin © Mike Bossley/WDC


Adopt a dolphin and follow the lives of these amazing creatures.

Humpback whale


Your gifts help us take action to protect their homes.