Each year, at least 100,000 dolphins and toothed whales are hunted, mainly for their meat. In some countries there is nothing to stop people from doing this. Although in most places dolphin hunting is illegal, it still happens because countries struggle to enforce their laws, particularly in remote places far from towns.
In some countries hunting dolphins and smaller whales such as pilot whales is not illegal. In the Faroe Islands (north of the UK) hundreds of pilot whales and dolphins are herded into bays and killed every year in a series of cruel hunts.
‘Whaling’ means whale hunting, and commercial whaling is whale hunting to make money. Commercial whaling used to be a big worldwide business as whale meat, baleen, and oil from blubber, were sold for big profits. A colossal 3 million whales were killed before governments decided together to ban commercial whaling in 1986. This was because every year more whales were killed than were being born and so many types of whale faced extinction. Whale mothers only have one baby every 2 to 6 years depending on the species.
Some whales are still endangered today, despite the ban on whaling. 90% of all blue whales were killed by whalers and they remain an endangered species; North Atlantic right whales are on the edge of extinction as there are only 350 individuals alive today.
Whaling is extraordinarily cruel; it is just not possible to humanely chase down and kill such gigantic creatures swimming for their lives at sea. Nobody needs whale products nowadays as we have plenty of manmade alternatives. Most people in the world agree that commercial whaling should never be allowed to restart and whales need our protection to give them a chance to recover.
Unfortunately, WDC still has some work to do as governments in Japan and Norway (and until recently Iceland) choose to ignore the worldwide ban on whaling. Every year, whalers kill several hundred fin, sei, and minke whales. Since very few people want to eat whale meat nowadays, it is used up in pet food and promoted to tourists as an unusual meal to experience while on holiday.
What can we do?
You can help WDC celebrate live whales and dolphins – help us spread the word about how incredible whales and dolphins are. Remind everyone that they are just like us in so many ways – they love, live in families, protect one another, grieve for their dead and they deserve to live their lives wild and free without the threat of hunting.
Living whales and dolphins are worth so much more in every way than dead ones – they are simply incredible creatures. WDC encourages people to make money from responsible whale and dolphin watching instead of hunting.
WDC campaigns and works with governments and local communities to end whale and dolphin hunting.
Most people believe that whaling is cruel and unnecessary in today’s world. We work alongside other charities and people living in whaling countries that are also trying to stop whaling. We make sure that tourists understand that it is very important not to eat whale meat while on holiday. WDC is determined to make sure whaling is a thing of the past.