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Humpback whale. Image: Christopher Swann

A story about whales and humans

As well as working for WDC, I write books for young people. Stories; about the...
Risso's dolphin at surface

My lucky number – 13 years studying amazing Risso’s dolphins

Everything we learn about the Risso's dolphins off the coast of Scotland amazes us and...
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 whale (balaenoptera physalus) Three fin whales Gulf of California.

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...

A Vancouver future free of whale and dolphin captivity?

On the 31st July 2014, something historic happened in Vancouver, Canada. At a special meeting organised to focus on the captivity of whales and dolphins at the Vancouver Aquarium, the Vancouver Park Board voted unanimously in favour of an end to captive breeding at the aquarium. The Board has now directed its staff to bring forward an amendment to the park bylaw that regulates activity at the aquarium, that would prohibit breeding of whales, dolphins and porpoises at the aquarium, unless they are a threatened species. The Board has also ordered the establishment of an oversight committee of experts on animal welfare, to ensure the safety and wellbeing of the whales and dolphins held at the aquarium, which includes belugas, Pacific white-sided dolphins and harbour porpoises. It also asked the aquarium to investigate alternatives to whale and dolphin captive displays. 

The aquarium has long been the subject of intense criticism over its incarceration of whales and dolphins and this decision follows recent statements from Vancouver’s Mayor, which support the phasing out of whale and dolphin captivity at the aquarium and growing concern about the aquarium’s expansion plans and whether further belugas will be housed there. Whether these plans will be affected by the Park Board’s decision remains to be seen. 

WDC supports these efforts to phase out captivity at the Vancouver Aquarium. The Vancouver Park by-law already prohibits the import of whales and dolphins captured in the wild after September 1996 and an amendment to prohibit captive breeding should prevent further whales and dolphins being born at the aquarium to suffer a lifetime in captivity. 

About Cathy Williamson

Cathy Williamson was policy manager of our End Captivity Programme until July 2021.