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A group of dolphins © Mike Bossley/WDC

Create healthy seas

How can we protect the places where whales and dolphins live?

Human activities are threatening whales and dolphins. With your help, we can create protected areas where whales and dolphins will thrive; we can tackle issues like pollution and plastics, noise and ship traffic.

Why do the oceans need protection?

Oceans are important for people: we drill for oil and gas, we send out vast fishing fleets, we transport cargo around the world. We also dump oil, chemicals and plastics into the ocean. Without stronger laws to manage these activities, we’re having a huge impact on the health of the seas. Whales and dolphins are suffering. And humans too – we all need a healthy ocean!

How can we clean up our act?

In many places, the ocean has become a rubbish dump. Millions of tonnes of litter end up in the sea. As it breaks down, dangerous chemicals are released. Ships spill oil and toxic chemicals. Sometimes ships strike and kill whales. And humans can be very noisy neighbours to whales and dolphins: shipping, oil and gas drilling, military sonar and wind farm construction create levels of underwater noise that interfere with whale and dolphin communication and drive them away from feeding and breeding grounds.

We have nature reserves on land, why not the sea?

We live on Planet Ocean. A massive 70% of the Earth’s surface is water, yet just over 5% of the ocean is protected from damaging human activities in so-called marine protected areas, or MPAs. We’re all familiar with reserves on land, which protect threatened species. But marine conservation is decades behind. It’s time to catch up. Over the next decade, we are encouraging governments to aim for 30% of the ocean in effective MPAs — 30 by 2030. With your help, we can protect the areas that are important to whales and dolphins, so they can live long and healthy lives.

Protecting migratory species

Many species of whales and dolphins migrate across the oceans. WDC works closely with governments and other NGOs at the UN's Convention on the Conservation of Migratory Species of Wild Animals (CMS) to protect them and their habitat.

How your support can help

  • Create protected areas – you can help us campaign for marine protected areas (MPAs) – nature reserves where whales and dolphins are safe from harmful activities.

Find out about Marine Protected Areas

  • Research important places – so much is unknown about the places that are important to whales and dolphins – the places they gather to feed, breed, socialize and raise their young. You can support research to identify the best places to protect.

Find out about our research and conservation work

  • Work with local communities and governments – many communities and countries depend on the sea. By supporting WDC, you can help us work with them to find ways to protect whales and dolphins.
  • Fight plastic and pollution – we are working with people like you to show governments and companies that we can reduce pollution and live with less plastic.

Find out how plastic and other pollution threatens whales and dolphins



Marine protected area created in Antarctica – thanks to WDC supporters like you, we successfully campaigned to create the world’s largest marine protected area in the Ross Sea, covering 1.55 million square kilometres.

Marine protected area created in Bangladesh – with help from people like you, we supported the creation of the first marine protected area in the seas off Bangladesh.

Speed limit set for ships – WDC supporters helped us campaign for a law that limits the speed of ships along the east coast of the United States. This has reduced the threat of harmful or lethal collisions with North Atlantic right whales by 90%, though the population is still at great risk from entanglement in fishing gear.

Identifying Important Marine Mammal Areas, or IMMAs – Over the past two years WDC has helped sponsor expert workshops to identify whale and dolphin habitats in need of protection in the Mediterranean, Pacific Islands and the North East Indian Ocean and South East Asian seas.

Tackling the threats

From climate change and vessel strikes to plastic and other pollution, human activities can have a devastating effect on whales and dolphins and the places where they live.

Vessel strikes

Find out how collisions with boats pose a threat to large whales.

Whale tail injured in collision with a vessel

Climate change

What impact will a warming climate have on whales and dolphins?

Bowhead whale © Alan Airey


Every year, numerous whales and dolphins strand on beaches. Why?

Stranded long-finned pilot whale in the Moray Firth

Ocean pollution

How do plastic and other forms of pollution in the oceans effect whales and dolphins?

Plastic from land often finds its way to the coast

Support our campaigns to create healthy seas

Whales and dolphins are at risk from human activities at sea. They need your help. Save them by getting involved today.

Our work to create healthy seas

Whales and dolphins are at risk from human activities at sea. They need your help. Save them by getting involved today.

Plastic is not whale food

There is so much plastic in our oceans, it's killing whales and dolphins. Take part in an Urban Beach Clean and play your part in cleaning up the seas.

Making Scotland's seas safer

In response to years of campaigning and research by WDC, the Scottish government is creating protected areas for whales and dolphins.

Please help us create healthy seas

By adopting a whale or dolphin, by making a donation, or by fundraising for WDC, you can help us protect their ocean homes.

Orca - Rob Lott


Adopt a whale or dolphin and help us create marine nature reserves.

Bottlenose dolphins leaping


Your gifts help us take action to create protected areas where whales and dolphins can thrive.

Humpback whale spyhop


Run, bake, walk, cycle… what could you do to help?