Portsmouth charity warns whales and dolphins face '˜greater' threats than ever
A 10-YEAR study by city wildlife experts into the lives of whales and dolphins has found the animals face greater danger than ever before.
Portsmouth charity Orca has have unveiled the findings in its The State of European Cetaceans report, put together using studies carried out over the last decade.
Hundreds of volunteers carried out surveys examining life in the sea on board ferries and commercial ships heading out from Portsmouth and the north east.
The report reveals the diversity of marine mammals in European seas, where a third of all species of whales in the world can be found.
Orca director Sally Hamilton said: ‘The breath-taking variety of whales and dolphins we have recorded demonstrates the huge range of marine wildlife that can be found around our coastlines.
‘But the survey has also revealed the increasing number of threats to their future – threats that have never been greater or more worrying.’
Orca’s work lists threats including whaling by Iceland and Norway, over-fishing, ship strikes, and marine pollution.
The research has resulted in key findings, such as:
n The seasonal migration of minke whales puts them at risk of whaling in Arctic seas having passed through UK waters.
n The Bay of Biscay is a critical and under-recognised habitat for cetaceans and must be designated as an Important Marine Mammal Area.
n The coastal waters off North Shields are an important nursery ground for white-beaked dolphins.
Ms Hamilton said: ‘We call on the UK and other European governments to take action in providing more marine protected areas and recognise the designation of Important Marine Mammal Areas to protect these incredible animals at this time of increased threats to their survival.’