Life at UCB through the eyes of our student bloggers

Conserving Whales and the importance

Conserving Whales and the importance

Hello again!

If you read my blogs last academic year, you will understand why I have grown to love whales so much. I recently volunteered for a company called The Atlantic Whale and Dolphin Foundation (AWdF).

The importance of whales

Whales have such an important role in the world as they can help to tackle climate change. A single great whale absorbs 33 tons of CO2 over its lifetime, while a tree absorbs just 22kg. This is such a massive difference which is unknown to many. This also happens because wherever whales go, phytoplankton grows, which absorb 40% of CO2, equivalent to 1.7 trillion trees! That’s the size of four Amazon rainforests. Having a rise in 1% of phytoplankton is the equivalent of planting 2 billion mature trees.
Even though whaling was banned in 1986, the number of whales is a quarter of what it used to be due to humans killing them. Restoring their numbers could absorb 1.3 billion tons of CO2 every year.

Protecting Whales

Blue Fishing Boat

More than 350 scientists have recently signed a petition to call for global action in order to protect whales, dolphins and other cetaceans from going extinct. It is sad to realise that in our lifetime many whale/dolphin species may go extinct. This could be as a result of:

  • Overfishing
  • Hunting (a good film to watch would be The Cove! It is very sad but shows what is really going on in the world)
  • Polluting their habitats
  • Bycatch
  • Collisions (a sad fact: sperm whales sleep vertically underwater so when large ferries cross the ocean, they often collide with the whales and the propellors of the boat engine have been known to very often kill them)

Whale Sanctuaries

The whales pictured above, Little Grey and Little White, were held captive at Shanghai Aquarium for 10 years doing performances for human entertainment. These animals are highly intelligent which is why they’re so easy to train, but keeping them in a very small tank with no natural surroundings is, in my eyes, very cruel. Little Grey and Little White were originally captured in Russian waters when they were just 2-3 years old.

John Bishop has taken part in The Sea Life Trust’s sanctuary project to get Little Grey and Little White from Shanghai Aquarium all the way to Iceland. The hope is that this project will provide a blueprint for other sanctuaries to be developed across the world. There are more than 3,000 dolphins and whales kept in captivity around the world. Hopefully one day there won’t be any kept in captivity and the population of whales will boom! The sanctuary in Iceland is hoping to have another 8 beluga whales join Little Grey and Little White.

You can watch John Bishop’s Great Whale Rescue Program here! And learn more about the sanctuary in Iceland here!

Canada has recently made it illegal to keep whales and dolphins in captivity which I think is absolutely amazing.


I have begun to love whales so much that I even had a whale tattooed onto my body when I was doing volunteering work with AWdF and realised how important whales are for our planet! You can read that blog here 🙂

Next week I will be back in Tenerife working with AWdF again and I am so excited. Over the summer we had been going on a rib boat out to sea to interact with the whales and dolphins up close. This time I have bought an attachment for my GoPro camera which will allow me to video these amazing animals underwater and hopefully learn more about them!

Check out the amazing work that AWdF do with The Fair Earth Foundation here. You can also follow The Fair Earth Foundation on Instagram and Facebook!

Thanks for reading!

Charley x 

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