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Gray whale (eschrichtius robustus) The eye of  a gray whale. Pacific coast Mexico.

Save the whale, save the world – because our lives depend on it

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Katie looking for dolphins

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Risso's dolphin: WDC/Nicola Hodgins

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And just like that, another season of field research studying remarkable Risso's dolphins came to...
Dead dolphins on the beach

Faroe Islands whale and dolphin slaughter – what have we done and what are we doing?

The massacre of 1,428 Atlantic white-sided dolphins at Skálafjørður on the Faroe Islands on 12th...
© WDC

The horror – reflecting on the massacre of 1,428 dolphins on the Faroe Islands

Like you and millions of people around the globe, I felt horrified by the news...
Bottlenose dolphins in never-ending lockdown at Loro Parque, Tenerife

The whales and dolphins trapped in never-ending lockdown – hearing their stories

Every whale and dolphin in captivity is an individual with a life history and around...
Orcalab

Surviving not living. Why we have to end lockdown for captive whales and dolphins

I first visited OrcaLab in British Columbia over 30 years ago and vividly remember my...
Shorewatchers

Our volunteer citizen scientists are making waves in Scotland

I'm lucky enough to do a job that I love. For the last seven years...

WDC welcomes increase of Marine Protected Areas

It’s good news announced at the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) meetings in Hyderabad, India (8-19 Oct. 2012) that marine protected areas (MPAs) have shown a 10-fold rise the past decade to cover 2.3% of the surface of the global ocean.

OK, it’s only a drop in the world ocean puddle, and the growth is being driven by just a handful of fairly new, large MPAs, most of them designated with the PEW Foundation’s help.

The policy brief by Mark D. Spalding, from the Nature Conservancy, and others notes that the 20 largest MPAs cover more than 5 million km2 and that this represents more than 60% of the entire global MPA coverage.

But from a whale, dolphin, and large mobile marine animal point of view, these large areas include potentially significant habitats.

Of course, it will be another matter figuring out how to manage these areas, most of which are far from communities, and to make the protection effective. Read more on this.

One such area we at WDC, Whale and Dolphin Conservation, have been focusing on is the Costa Rica Dome. This area has a substantial population of endangered blue whales that breed, raise their calves and feed in the area. There are also huge dolphin, shark, sea turtle and other important species in this productive area. We have been working since 2009 to try to get this area accepted through the CBD as an ecologically or biologically significant area (an “EBSA”) preparatory to it becoming a large high seas MPA.

In August at a CBD workshop, we succeeded in getting the Costa Rica Dome endorsed by scientists — working with our partners MarViva, Marine Conservation Institute, the International Committee on Marine Mammal Protected Areas and the IUCN World Commission on Protected Areas. It is now being considered by the CBD Parties in India. The newly proposed boundaries are not quite as large as we’d hoped, but the marine area now extends right to the shoreline of Costa Rica and Nicaragua, which will help buy-in from local communities and government and connect ecosystems from the land with coastal whale, dolphin and sea turtle populations to the deep sea. On that note, for obtaining “buy-in”, the proposed name “Costa Rica Dome” has been changed to “Central American Dome”. This is a bit like changing the name of the “Gulf of Mexico” to the “Gulf of Mexico and Southern US States”, though the Costa Rica Dome’s established name is not so well known. But if changing an accepted geographical name results in collective responsibility and better protection, I am all for it.

For more information about the implications and next steps for marine protected areas, visit cetaceanhabitats.org

About Erich Hoyt

Erich is a Research Fellow at WDC and Co-chair of the IUCN Marine Mammal Protected Areas Task Force. He is a director of the Far East Russian Orca Project (FEROP). View references to Erich's published material on Google Scholar. Follow Erich on Twitter.