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Humpback whale underwater

Climate giants – how whales can help save the world

We know that whales, dolphins and porpoises are amazing beings with complex social and family...
Black Sea common dolphins © Elena Gladilina

The dolphin and porpoise casualties of the war in Ukraine

Rare, threatened subspecies of dolphins and porpoises live in the Black Sea along Ukraine's coast....
WDC's Ed Fox, Chris Butler-Stroud and Carla Boreham take a message from the ocean to parliament

Taking a message from the ocean to parliament

It's a sad fact that whales and dolphins don't vote in human elections, but I...
Minke whale © Ursula Tscherter - ORES

The whale trappers are back with their cruel experiment

Anyone walking past my window might have heard my groan of disbelief at the news...
Boto © Fernando Trujillo

Meet the legendary pink river dolphins

Botos don't look or live like other dolphins. Flamingo-pink all over with super-skinny snouts and...
Tokitae in captivity

Talking to TUI – will they stop supporting whale and dolphin captivity?

Last Thursday I travelled to Berlin for a long-anticipated meeting with TUI senior executives. I...

Earth Day Q&A with Waipapa Bay Wines’ marketing director, Fran Draper

We've been partnered with Waipapa Bay Wines since 2019 so for this year's Earth Day,...
Orcas at the seabed

The secrets of orca beach life

Rubbing on smooth pebbles is a generations-old cultural tradition for a particular group of orcas...

New studies reveal impact of navy sonar on whales

Two new published studies in the scientific journals Proceedings B and Biology Letters, reveal how simulated navy sonar can disturb the behaviour of blue whales and beaked whales.

Despite often being considered an ‘emerging threat’ to whales and dolphins, noise pollution has been on the agenda since the 1980s – more than 30 years now. And despite the ever increasing evidence of impacts to whales and dolphins, there has been very little movement towards effective protection.

This latest evidence of military sonar impacts – firstly in those deep diving beaked whale species that we already knew were highly susceptible to stranding as a result of sonar activities, and now evidence suggests that sonar ‘significantly affects the feeding behaviour’ of the most endangered baleen species, the mighty blue whale.

And alongside these important new publications on military sonar impacts, a monumental court decision in the US this month also determined that mitigation for seismic surveys in the Gulf of Mexico are woefully inadequate.

Current ‘best practise’ guidelines deal only with injury at short distances from the source and often only at the start of activities (it is ‘assumed that animals will move away to protect themselves). They are woefully inadequate. These guidelines do nothing to mitigate the wide spread behavioural affects that whales and dolphins, and other marine life, are suffering with, on a daily basis, in the seas around us – affecting their feeding, their fitness, increasing stranding risk and the health of whole populations.

Noise producers and governments of the world have a responsibility to protect our marine life and conserve populations. Noise guidelines do not protect individuals from injury and they do not protect populations from wide scale behavioural impacts that may have population consequences.

In the UK we understand the JNCC (the public body that advises the UK Government on nature conservation) seismic guidelines will be reviewed this year. The JNCC guidelines were one of the first to be produced globally and are often looked upon as being world leading. We wonder how all this evidence of impact, compiled since the last review of the guidelines, will be used to inform their updating.

A step change to ensure effective mitigation of intense noise pollution is long overdue.

Find out more about pollution and read our report – Oceans of Noise.