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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...

Conservation in action – working on an international stage to protect whales and dolphins

Unlike us humans, whales, dolphins and porpoises don’t entertain the concept of borders. For them it’s not the artificial construct of imaginary barriers that prevents them from living their life as they please, for them it’s all just one big connected ocean (or river). For those species that migrate, whether it’s a journey from one hemisphere to another or the fact that in their daily lives they could be in the waters of one country in the morning and another in the afternoon, it’s the barriers that we humans place on their freedom that impacts them the most. From bycatch to underwater noise, it is us who pose the biggest restrictions to their day-to-day movements.

There are 38 species of dolphins that live in the ocean.

So what are we doing to try to counter these threats and intrusions? The Convention on Migratory Species (otherwise known as CMS or the Bonn Convention) is an intergovernmental treaty under the auspices of the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP). Countries (otherwise known as ‘Parties’ – and there’s 130 of them) come together under this ‘umbrella’ to help protect migrating avian, terrestrial and aquatic species by enacting conservation initiatives and collaborating with each other to ensure the threats that wildlife face are addressed. You can imagine therefore that the task is mighty – yet couldn’t be more important!

The 130 member countries come together every three years (at the Conference of the Parties or COP) to evaluate both the conservation status of migrating species and the threats they face and to agree ways to improve the situation for the most threatened species. These measures are then woven into everyday conservation.

I’m currently representing WDC at COP 13 in India to ensure countries are addressing some of the biggest threats facing whales, dolphins and porpoises around the world.

I'm at the CMS meeting to represent whales, dolphins and porpoises
I'm at the CMS meeting to represent whales, dolphins and porpoises

During this week I’ll be pushing for more countries to introduce laws prohibiting the capture of whales and dolphins from the wild for commercial purposes. Although some countries already have appropriate legislation in place, others are sadly lacking.

I’m also working to get action to stop dolphins and small whales ending up on dinner plates. We’ve seen a worrying growth in the numbers of individuals meeting this fate, often after becoming entangled in fishing nets. We need to act with urgency to ensure that populations and even entire species of dolphins do not become extinct. This week, I’ll be championing Atlantic humpback dolphins, one of only two species endemic to Africa, who will be gone from our planet forever if nothing is done to tackle this issue.

A little bit closer to home, we’re looking to address the plight of the Baltic and the Iberian populations of harbour porpoises. Both are facing threats and experiencing a rapid decline in their numbers. Only co-ordinated and collaborative actions can help ensure they survive.

I'm working hard to get protection for porpoises
I'm working hard to get protection for porpoises

I’ve got a jam-packed week ahead and I’m so grateful for the generosity of our supporters. It’s your donations that mean I can attend important meetings, like this one, where decisions are made that can protect and conserve whales, dolphins and porpoises well into the future.

My view of the conference hall where conservation decsions are made
My view of the conference hall where conservation decsions are made

Help us get to more important events like this

Make a donation and be part of conservation history

About Nicola Hodgins

Policy Manager at WDC


  1. Jane Powell on 25th February 2020 at 7:53 am

    You’re doing an amazing job Nicola. Is anything happening to protect the last vaquitas?

    • Nicola Hodgins on 27th February 2020 at 3:50 pm

      Thanks Jane. Although the crisis facing the vaquita was mentioned several times, unfortunately due to this meeting being specifically about ‘migratory’ species, no specific measures were discussed. As noted, the plight of the vaquita was not forgotten and several of us held them up as an example of what might happen to several species that do fall under the jurisdiction of CMS if appropriate and immediate action is not taken to protect them.

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