Whales, Dolphins & Plastic

The oceans cover 72% of the Earth, produce over half of the oxygen we breathe and help regulate the climate, it’s an ecosystem and vital support system we really shouldn’t ignore. Despite all of this, only around 2% of the ocean is protected. People do not realise how vulnerable Earth is and the ocean is the heart of the planet.

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This week saw a lot of stories about marine life, so let’s take a look at what’s been happening across the globe:

First, some good news! A new study suggests that Southwest Atlantic Humpback Whale populations are now around 25,000. The Humpbacks were on the brink of extinction due to whaling that started back in the 20th century, prior to this the population was estimated to be around 27,000.

The recent study shows an incredible population recovery of 90%. The Humpbacks have been protected since 1960s which has allowed the populations to flourish.

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Another great story this week is about Dolphin Project’s work in Bali. Alongside the Central Jakarta Forestry Department and the Jakarta Animal Aid Network (JAAN), Dolphin Project has just established the world’s first permanent dolphin sanctuary.

The sanctuary has been created after the 4 dolphins held at Melka Hotel were confiscated, finally putting an end to the hotels part in the cruel captive dolphin industry. Thanks to the hard work and campaigning carried out by Dolphin Project, the dolphins have been moved to a sea pen and will never have to perform tricks for fish or live in barren tanks again.

The goal is to now rehabilitate 2 of the dolphins and release them back into the wild. The other two dolphins are unfortunately unfit for release due to health issues such as blindness and missing teeth so will now ‘retire’ in the sea pen dolphin sanctuary.

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Unfortunately, people are still willing to pay to see dolphins in tanks and as money is a motivator of many of the worlds evils, the Taiji dolphin hunt continues. We are now in the second month of the annual six month period where boats in Taiji (Japan) chase pods of dolphins into the Cove.

Once the pods are trapped in the cove using nets some individuals are captured, destined for a life in captivity.  Others are butchered for meat and this year’s quota allows for more than 1,700 animals to be killed or captured during this period. These dolphin drives are brutal and if the people who want to see dolphins in captivity knew the origins and the realities, I don’t think they’d be willing to pay for such cruelty.

You can help stop this by raising awareness of the cruelties of captivity and never buying a ticket to captive dolphin shows.

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There are also a lot of stories about plastic pollution and whales washing up with stomachs full of plastic bags and other manmade items. Let’s take a look at the facts from Plastic Oceans:

  • 8 million tonnes of plastic enter the ocean every year
  • Plastic make up around 75% of marine litter
  • It is estimated that 90% of all seabirds have ingested plastic

What can we do?

  • Reduce your use of single-use plastics
  • Help keep beaches clean by picking up litter
  • Avoid products containing microbeads
  • Buy products with less packaging
  • Say no to disposables such as plastic cutlery and takeaway coffee cups
  • Cut apart plastic rings such as six-pack can holders to prevent wildlife from becoming trapped and strangled

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Small changes have big impacts. Never doubt that you make a difference, you do.

Tread lightly on this Earth,

Coexistwithmeg ♥
Megan Richards

Dolphin Project
The Independent
Plastic Oceans
Ocean Society

Further Reading:

EcoWatch, Ocean Plastic: What You Need To Know

Ocean Plastic Pollution: Our Ocean’s Biggest Threat

NRDC, 10 Ways To Reduce Ocean Plastic

The Problem of Marine Plastic Pollution

Ocean Plastic a Planetary Crisis

Great Pacific Garbage Patch

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