There are few animal groups that have been exploited so ruthlessly as the whales - large and small. For thousands of years aboriginal hunting has sought the meat and oil of cetaceans. Today, a few subsistence hunts still prevail. It is the last 300 years that have seen a steady escalation in the volume of animals taken culminating in the well documented greed of the 20th century when over two million whales were slaughtered in the southern hemisphere alone. These excesses have reduced many populations of cetaceans to populations that are now critically endangered like the mighty Blue Whale. Others, like the North Atlantic Right Whale whose numbers are counted in the hundreds, are in danger of extinction. The need for whale and dolphin conservation measures has never been greater. With the adoption of a worldwide moratorium on commercial whaling in the mid 1980's cetacean populations the world over started to recover - in spite of the Japanese continuing to hunt smaller rorquals under the guise of scientific whaling. However, with continued pressure and ongoing environmental degradation it is likely that some cetacean species will be extinct before the end of the decade and others before the end of the century. For some cetacean populations we are too late. For others this appalling legacy can only be countered through rigorous and effective whale conservation and dolphin conservation measures.
The many threats facing the world's whales and dolphins today include:
- Entanglement in both static and free floating fishing gear
- Chemical and oil pollution
- Noise Pollution and low frequency military sonar
- Depletion of prey species through over fishing
- Collision with commercial and recreational craft
- Human induced climate change
- Excessive and insensitive whale watching without controls
- Resumption of commercial whaling
Whale Watch West Cork is acutely aware of these threats and acknowledges the valuable heritage that the presence of these marine mammals in West Cork waters represents to the Irish nation. We operate a very strict viewing policy when in the presence of all marine mammals and adhere to the guidelines recommended by the Irish Whale and Dolphin Group, the National Parks and Wildlife Service and the DCMNR for whale and dolphin watch operators.
Whale Watch West Cork is dedicated to the conservation of whales, dolphins and porpoises and their habitats through research, education and informed commentary with special emphasis on the threats currently facing these unique animals and their fragile environment. To that end:
- We make places freely available on our whale and dolphin watching trips for those who actively engage in research and practical assessment that will further the processes that lead to effective cetacean conservation measures on a national and international level.
- We donate funds derived from whale and dolphin watching activities towards research and practical assessments that will improve the conservation status of both visiting and resident cetaceans in Irish waters.
- We are committed to the educational value of whale and dolphin watching tours and creating awareness through informed, interactive dialogue, of the pressures faced by cetaceans today. We promote the broader marine conservation message at every opportunity.
- Through our schools initiative we encourage local school children to take whale and dolphin watching tours allowing us to emphasize the importance of the marine environment to Ireland's coastal communities and next generation.
© Whale Watch West Cork Ireland 2005-2009
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Click on images for larger view:
Dead Sperm Whale in West Cork
Stranded Long Finned Pilot Whale
Common Dolphin Probable Bycatch Victim