How YOU can save whales
Written by Bailey Thieben
There are a lot of great organizations doing great things for whale conservation, but not everyone has the means to work with them directly. No matter where you live or who you are, here are some tips and resources to help you do your part in whale and ocean conservation.
If you live near the ocean…
It is often easy to feel a need to help whales when you see their environment and its destruction first hand. If you live near the ocean, or have contact with marine communities and environments, here are some things you can do.
Practice whale safe boating
- Reduce boat speed when near marine mammals and stay at least 100 yards away from any dolphins and whales.
Participate in citizen science
- If you see any marine mammals or other species, take pictures of them, and post them on sites like iNaturalist, or send them to whale watches or whale conservation groups.
See something, say something
- Familiarize yourself with whale entanglements and know how to report an injured or entangled animal if you see one. Be able to recognize marine mammal harassment, and report anyone that you see getting too close to or bothering whales in the wild. If you see injured, entangled or dead marine mammals – call theNOAA Fisheries 24-hour Stranding Hotline: (866) 755-6622
Whale conservation from home…
Even if you don’t live near the ocean, or if you have never seen a whale or other marine mammal, there are plenty of things you can do to protect whales and spread awareness about whale conservation, and the dangers marine mammals face.
Sign a petition
- One of the best ways to protect whales is by gaining attention and making political change, which you can do by signing a petition. Change.org hosts a number of marine and whale conservation petitions, including these: https://www.change.org/p/shinzō-abe-stop-whaling, https://www.change.org/p/queensland-minister-for-fisheries-stop-whale-entanglements-in-shark-nets
Contact an International Whaling Commissioner to voice your concerns
- The IWC is a global group responsible for world whaling and whale conservation practices. They provide the global legislation for whaling practices, and each country that is a signatory to the International Convention for the Regulation of Whaling has a commissioner that can be contacted by the public. Follow this document for information on how to reach out: https://iwc.int/contact
Write a letter to the National Marine Fisheries Service
- Voice your opinion about seismic and sonar testing, which can harm whales and their ability to feed and communicate, by writing a letter to those regulating the practices.
Organize a group to write letters
- We can get the attention of legislators who create marine policy by writing letters, and if there are enough, their attention will be turned in our direction. The more people who write, the better, so get as many people as you can to voice their concerns regarding whale protection. Here are some topics you can focus on:
- Support marine mammal protected areas
- Support the Marine Mammal Protection Act
- Support the Save Right Whales Act
- Support whale safe fishing techniques
- Oppose cetacean captivity
Support whale conservation groups
- Give support to whale conservation groups like Ocean Alliance by donating or volunteering remotely. Here is an example of a virtual research projects you can help with: https://www.zooniverse.org/projects/cetalingua/dolphin-chat,
Adopt a whale
- Why symbolically adopt a whale? Not only do you get to feel a connection to the animal, but you are also directly funding their protection and research. When you adopt a whale from Ocean Alliance, you are funding our mission, and helping to protect a species that you love. Here is our adoption page: https://whale.org/adopt-a-whale/
If you feel like your virtual efforts to protect whales are not enough, there are many different steps you can take to protect their habitat as well, steps that will likely benefit the global environment as a whole.
Support efforts to stop climate change
- Whales are directly and indirectly affected by changing ocean conditions, and a decline in whales will have a drastic impact on ocean systems. Any efforts to slow climate change can have an effect of the welfare of whales and the ocean.
Buy sustainable seafood
The fishing industry poses some serious threats to whales, such as entanglement with gear or collisions with ships. Make sure you are buying and consuming seafood that comes from a whale-safe, sustainable sourced producer.
- By using less of everything, such as fossil fuels and single use plastics, we can reduce our carbon footprint and our impacts on the ocean. Reducing fossil fuel use will help to slow climate warming, and by using fewer single use plastics and goods, we can reduce the amount of plastic that goes into waterways.
Support renewable energy and green legislation
- Help your country or the world move away from fossil fuel usage. Not only does using fossil fuels increase atmospheric and ocean warming, but it also poses the risk of spills and excess equipment in the ocean, which are dangerous for whales and other marine mammals.
Participate in clean-ups
- Even if you don’t live near the ocean, chances are there is a body of water near you that could be collecting litter and debris. Get involved to prevent this trash from harming the species exposed to it, and to prevent any more garbage from moving through water systems into the ocean.
Watch films about marine conservation, and share with others
- With our access to streaming services, we have more inspiring and informative content than ever. Watch movies and documentaries about ocean and whale conservation to learn more about issues present in marine ecosystems, and share what you learn with others to grow the movement! The Free streaming serviceWaterBear is a great option.
For young people…
Although you may not have the resources of some adults, there are plenty of ways for you to help and spread the word
Choose whale and ocean related topics for independent projects
- Not only will you be learning more about these topics yourself, but you will be teaching your classmates and teachers about the dangers presented to whales and other marine species
Volunteer with clean-ups
- If community service is required at school, or just something you want to be a part of, look for beach or water-way cleanups, or try to start one in the area around your school or home.
Look for citizen science opportunities
- Whether it is online or in your own backyard, there are plenty of opportunities for you to make a difference in the world around you. You can use sites like Zooniverse or iNaturalist to help analyze data or create your own.
- You can write letters voicing your opinions to legislators who are in charge of marine laws, you can find your local legislature here: https://www.house.gov/representatives/find-your-representative
Start a fundraiser at your school or in your community
- Ask someone to help you start an initiative to raise money for organizations that perform whale research. You can do this with a bake sale or craft fair, donating some of the money to charities you think will do the best job protecting the species you find important.
5 Things You Can Do To Help Whales and Our Planet Right Now
40 Ways to Save the Whales on our 40th Anniversary
How to Help Save Whales: 10 Steps (with Pictures) – wikiHow
S: Safe boating practices | See A Spout…Watch Out!
Whaling – Humane Society International