Recent documentaries and internet exposure have brought attention to the on going plight of marine life and in particular the many species of whales that are increasingly at risk from man’s reckless behavior and the overall decline in the environment. Decades ago the main threat to whales was from the commercial whaling industry and unfortunately countries like Iceland still maintain their right to hunt many species including ones that are considered endangered such as fin whales.
Every year thousands of whales are slaughtered for their home market despite pressure from the international community. It seems unbelievable in this day and age that any country, much less ones that are as progressive as Iceland, would still engage in such activities to the point of causing extinction of a species, yet that is what seems about to happen.
Certainly it would seem that the far reaching effects of the internet have exposed the actions of such countries and activism generally has increased and heightened the awareness of the general public. In addition to the overall effects of commercial whaling these beautiful mammals are increasingly being threatened by other environmental factors that have escalated in recent years.
Climate change has become a hot topic of late and results in quite a bit of contention in both the political world and among the general public. It would seem that warming oceans has had a considerable effect on marine life and the Antarctic Peninsula as an area is warming more quickly then many others causing sea ice levels to be at record low levels which in turn effects the krill population. Without sufficient krill to feed on the whales of this area are at risk and combined with the over fishing of the krill itself these factors combine to compromise the well being of the whales.
In addition to these environmental factors the whales have become increasingly affected by such things as increased pollution, with the oceans becoming the dumping grounds for much of the world’s waste materials. The ever increasing volume of shipping traffic also means that the migratory routes of these mammals are often affected and their breeding grounds may be disturbed.
Often times large ships and tankers will collide with the whales causing severe damage and fishing gear is often abandoned or lost leaving lethal debris that can easily become entangled in the whales. Additionally gas and oil development in the oceans may cause such severe noise so as to damage the whales and disrupt their feeding and breeding.
It would seem that the environmental issues are only getting worse and the loss of food sources, as climate changes take effect, will require the whales to travel much farther to find sufficient food. This extra time required to reach the new feeding grounds will ultimately result in far less time for actual feeding once they reach their destination. Evidence of the effects of these changes can be seen in the drop in reproduction of certain species of whales, such as the right whale, which is already at severe risk of becoming extinct.
Future for whales
If the future of the many species of whale currently under threat is to be assured this somewhat gloomy picture needs to be addressed. Fortunately there are many well meaning people and organizations who have made it their determination to draw attention to the plight of the whale and are doing their best to bring pressure to bear on governments and industry to institute some necessary change.
Some of these initiatives include the introduction of new science which can facilitate the study of whales without harming or killing them as was previously the case. The use of such things as drones enables scientists to track and observe the whales and tagging can assist in collecting data that will benefit the scientific community as they strive to understand these complex creatures.
With the use of such technology as whale cams the typical day in the life of a whale can be observed and this information collated to get a clearer understanding of their habits and needs.The increase in information will allow the scientific community to make recommendations as to where to put Marine Protected Areas and how best to develop the necessary educational programs to encourage and facilitate conservation.
This technology has allowed many to be able to track whales, the use of gps devices as well as having internet aboard ships even miles out in the water has helped immensely. When out looking for whales or tracking them in their natural habitats this has come in so helpful, allowing me, as well as many others to be able to finally see many of these amazing animals in there homes. It also is useful after a long day of work to be able to sit back and relax and take advantage of having internet on board. I personally like to check my social media accounts, play a few games like minecraft and pokerstarscasino, before I head back to work on my project.
As creatures at the top of the food chain whales have an important role to play in the overall balance and health of the marine environment and therefore their conservation and protection should be paramount. One would presume that these spectacular creatures would be eagerly protected but despite fervent efforts on the part of many over the past few decades six out of the thirteen species of great whale are still considered endangered. Valiant efforts are made each year to save stranded whales who become beached at various locations around the world and whilst this is helping somewhat, surely the international community needs to acknowledge that if serious conservation does not become a priority it may be a case of too little too late!