Portsmouth charity say whales and dolphins face 'ever-increasing' risk of human impact

A REPORT has highlighted a ‘catalogue of evidence’ of the threats facing whales and dolphins in the 21st century.

By Millie Salkeld
Wednesday, 4th December 2019, 9:30 am
Updated Friday, 13th December 2019, 3:19 pm
A fin whale, one of the species at serious risk from ship strike
A fin whale, one of the species at serious risk from ship strike

Ship strike, commercial whaling and plastics are amongst those issues being faced by whales, dolphins and porpoises and conservation charity ORCA, based in Portsmouth, has called for greater recognition, awareness and action to protect these animals in UK and European waters.

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This includes strengthening measures to offset the impact of marine noise, urgent changes to the way plastics are utilised and a call for Japan, Norway and Iceland to immediately stop all commercial whaling activities.

ORCA director Sally Hamilton said: ‘This report is the product of the dedication and hard work of our amazing volunteers, and we owe it to them to do everything we can to make sure it can be used to better protect our oceans.

‘We need government, industry and researchers to work together to address the terrifying deterioration in the health of our oceans and ensure that we can safeguard it for future generations.’

It is estimated that 12.7 million metric tons of plastic enter the oceans every year, which are consumed by marine mammals and can result in malnourishment and death.

Commercial whaling also continues to have a devastating impact on whales, having been responsible for the death of at least 38,000 animals since 1986.

The report also includes a specific focus on ship strike, where marine creatures are involved in collision with ships.

Ship strike is an issue that represents a clear and present danger to large whales around the world and ORCA have been working to address this threat for many years.

The charity use volunteer citizen scientists on board ferries and cruise ships to collect scientific data that is then used to identify critical hotspots and trends. This research is shared with researchers and governments to create better protections for whales and dolphins.

In September it launched a unique research project in partnership with Brittany Ferries and the University of Portsmouth, studying fin whales in the Bay of Biscay to help understand how large whales interact with ships.