Whales Today: Survival Threats and Conservation Efforts

Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution
WHOI scientists have conducted marine mammal research for decades, from making the first underwater recordings of marine mammal sounds in the 1940s, to the development of digital tracking tags and CT scanning methods. The WHOI Marine Mammal Center (MMC), fosters research on whales, dolphins, and seals, including their behavior, health, anatomy, and perception; methods to free entangled whales and the causes of strandings; and marine mammal populations' link to ocean conditions and plankton abundance. 

The Whale and Dolphin Conservation (WDC)
Read about Whale and Dolphin Conservation, the world's most active charity dedicated to the conservation and welfare of all whales and cetaceans.

Ocean Alliance
Ocean Alliance collects a broad spectrum of data on whales and ocean life relating particularly to toxicology, behavior, bioacoustics, and genetics. From that data we work with our scientific partners to advise educators and policy makers on wise stewardship of the oceans to: reduce pollution, prevent the collapse of marine mammal populations, maintain human access to fish and other sea life, and promote ocean and human health.

Wildlife Conservation
Explore satellite tracking of western Arctic bowhead whales and the important project associated with these whales by the Alaska Department of Fish & Game Division of Wildlife Conservation. 

Ocean Today (NOAA)
Explore Ocean Today where you can read about ocean news around the world, ocean life, science and technology being developed and used to help us understand the most unexplored places of the Earth, and discoveries being made everyday. 

OceanCare
Whales stranding, shoals of fish collapsing, sea turtles fleeing: extreme noise is harming marine life. Noise is caused by military sonar tests, the search for oil and gas, and giant ship propellers.

Underwater Noise – The Overlooked Catastrophe. from OceanCare.

 

Sounds in the Ocean–Deadly Impacts
All cetaceans use sound to communicate with other members of their species. Their sounds can travel great distances, sometimes hundreds of miles. Odontocetes (toothed whales, dolphins, porpoises) also use sound, in the form of echolocation to hunt and navigate. Their hearing structure is much more sensitive to sounds in the ocean, especially those of lower frequencies.

Unfortunately, the oceans have become a very noisy environment over the past 50 years, due to increased shipping, sonar and oil exploration via high intensity airguns. At minimum, these sounds mask the communication between animals. At worst, they are deadly, leading to mass strandings of beaked whales, dolphins and porpoises.  Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) has created a video that summarizes these issues, with the use of animations, video footage, photographs and informative narration.

NRDC Film – Lethal Sounds: Deadly Sonar Harms Whales

 

The Science of Sounds in the Ocean
Many marine organisms create sound to get their message across or find food. Snapping shrimp, red drum and bearded seals all create unique noises that will be recognized by other members of their species. The biology and physics that comprise the creation and transmission of sound are fascinating. The science of this process is explained in depth via Discovery of Sounds in the Sea (DOSITS). There are many audio clips of animal sounds and a few of anthropogenic (human-made) noises as well.

The Acoustic Ecology Institute
The Acoustic Ecology Institute works to increase personal and social awareness of our sound environment, through education programs in schools, regional events, and our internationally recognized website, AcousticEcology.org, a comprehensive clearinghouse for information on sound-related environmental issues and scientific research. 

Joshua Horwitz - War of the Whales Lecture
In this lively lecture accompanied by images, video and audio clips, author Joshua Horwitz untangled the conflicted, but always passionate relationship between the top predators on land and in the sea. And he addressed the question: Why – at a time when humans are struggling to adapt to accelerated changes in our own environment – does protecting whales and their habitats still matter?

Lecture: Why Whales Matter by Joshua Horwitz, author of "War of the Whales" from New Bedford Whaling Museum on Vimeo. Shot and edited by Eric R. Anderson of Gigs-to-Go Music Videos.

Last Modified: December 11, 2014