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- Paul Ransley
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Hi, I'm Spout the resident blogger here at WhaleFest, the largest celebration of wild whales and dolphins in the world. At WhaleFest divers, conservationists, whale and dolphin experts and celebrities gather from across the globe sharing their passion for my friends, the whales and dolphins.
We want to share our passion for seeing whales and dolphins in the wild, and we want to continue seeing them, so we have some messages to share with you :
Encouraging the use of ethical whale-watch operators, dive boats and facilities for planned encounters, so as not to impact on their daily behaviour.
Ensuring opportunistic encounters have minimal impact on whales and dolphins, whether in the water, or when on dive boats. We hope that by raising awareness divers can influence others in the dive and boating community to handle such interactions responsibly.
While we know much more about whales and dolphins than we did a decade ago there is still so much we don't know. So we'll be providing information on opportunities to participate in studying whales and dolphins in the wild, and even from home in your spare time, where to send sighting information, how to take pictures to enable better identification of individuals and track movements and behaviours. Many of the existing catalogues and studies are performed from surface observations yet whales and dolphins spend the majority of time travelling large distances and are underwater for most of it - divers travel over these routes and with co-ordination we can provide important information. And divers and snorkellers are in the unique position of being able to get in-water photographs though guidelines need to be followed when doing this.
A common misconception is that whale and dolphin populations overall are now healthy following initiatives such as the Save The Whale campaign of the 1970's and 1980's. Sadly this is far from the truth. While whaling is suspended they face many threats including depletion of food from fisheries exploitation and overfishing, bycatch, climate change, ship strikes, noise pollution and capture for captivity.
Many large whales are still to recover from long term whaling and insufficient sanctuaries exist over there full migration routes, which often extend over very large distances. Over 10 smaller whales and dolphins are listed as critical or endangered, including New Zealand’s Hector and Maui dolphins, the Amazon pink dolphin, river dolphins in Asia, the Baltic porpoise and local Beluga populations off Canada to name a few. Many more are data deficient meaning it is not possible to determine their true conservation status.
Rises in plastic pollution world-wide in the oceans presents another significant and yet silent long term threat.
So there is more work to do, across many fronts, with a number of threats affecting not just cetaceans, but sharks, turtles, seabirds and a myriad of other marine life. We need healthy, sustainable oceans, and we hope you'll follow us with our mission to raise awareness for these majestic, iconic, sea mammals, support research and implement initiates to secure the conservation status of cetacean, and share with us your encounters with whales and dolphins. We look forward is hearing from you !
Spout, Brighton, England.