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Meet Charlie - bottlenose dolphin

UK government’s poor performance on the marine environment

One year ago, Environment Minister Rebecca Pow declared 2021 a 'Marine Super Year', stressing that...
A humpback whale wrapped in creel rope. Image: East Lothian Countryside Rangers

Protecting whales in Scotland – how we’re working with Scottish fishers to save lives

Whale and dolphin entanglement in fishing gear (or bycatch) is a massive issue all around...
Dangerous behaviour - snorkellers and orcas.

No way is this responsible whale watching Norway

As a new year dawns, how I wish that for once I could be writing...
Annabel Moore writing and illustrating Whales' Warning

‘Whales’ Warning by Annabel

Kidzone - quick links Fun Facts Our Goals Curious kids Kids blogs Fantastic fundraisers Gallery...
Annabel Moore writing and illustrating Whales' Warning

Celebrating all our amazing supporters and one incredible ten-year-old called Annabel

You, our brilliant supporters make everything our team at WDC does for whales and dolphins...
A magnificent sei whale © Christopher Swann

Grace the sei whale is dead – it’s time to stop killing whales

Imagine ... a whale. A sei whale, her body something between blue and steely grey....
Atlantic white-sided dolphin massacre 12th September 2021

Faroe Islands – out of sight but not out of mind

We have been working to end the pilot whale slaughter in the Faroe Islands for...
Fin whale (balaenoptera physalus) Gulf of California.

From managing commercial slaughter to saving the whale – the International Whaling Commission at 75

Governments come together under the auspices of the International Whaling Commission (IWC) to make decisions...

Arctic in trouble

Two news stories caught my eye over the last couple of days.

The BBC is reporting that the Arctic Ocean is ‘acidifying rapidly’, and that mercury exposure has been linked to a dramatic decline in Arctic foxes

The BBC reports that scientists from the Arctic Monitoring and Assessment Programme (AMAP) monitored widespread changes in ocean chemistry in the region and conluded that ‘even if CO2 emissions stopped now, it would take tens of thousands of years for Arctic Ocean chemistry to revert to pre-industrial levels’.

Levels are estimated to be at 30% above pre-industrial.

‘They forecast major changes in the marine ecosystem, but say there is huge uncertainty over what those changes will be. It is well known that CO2 warms the planet, but less well-known that it also makes the alkaline seas more acidic when it is absorbed from the air…Absorption is particularly fast in cold water so the Arctic is especially susceptible, and the recent decreases in summer sea ice have exposed more sea surface to atmospheric CO2.

The Arctic’s vulnerability is exacerbated by increasing flows of freshwater from rivers and melting land ice, as freshwater is less effective at chemically neutralising the acidifying effects of CO2.’

We have known for some time that heavy metals have been affecting whales and dolphin in the Artcic an that the Faroese health authorities have gone so far as to advise people not to eat pilot whale anymore, but this new evidence of affects on a terrestial mammal is further unwelcome news.

The new Mercury data is published in the Journal, PLOS ONE.

The BBC reports that ‘Mercury levels in the world’s oceans have doubled over the past 100 years, according to the UN, with more mercury deposited in the Arctic than on any other part of the planet.’ The Arctic Council says there has been a ten-fold increase in the levels of mercury found in top predators in the region over the past 150 years…’

What is especially interesting is that the BBC notes that ‘… recent research from Nasa has suggested that declining levels of sea ice in the region could be helping to push up levels of the substance [Mercury]’

NASA suggest that reductions in Arctic sea ice in the last decade may be intensifying the chemical release of bromine into the atmosphere, resulting in ground-level ozone depletion and the deposit of toxic mercury in the Arctic.