Protect Sperm Whales From Ship Strikes

Eubalaena_glacialis_dead-NOAA

Target: Isabel García Tejerina, Minister of Agriculture, Food, and the Environment

Goal: Move shipping lanes to protect sperm whales in the Canary Islands from ship strikes.

In the Canary Islands, sperm whales are dying. According to new research, the islands are an important habitat for female and immature whales, but the number of whales killed in the area by ship strikes exceeds the estimated average of 2.5 whales born each year. Simple arithmetic tells us that, if conditions remain constant or deteriorate, the population of sperm whales in the Canary Islands is doomed to dwindle and die.

That grim prediction is echoed by the stories of whale populations around the globe. Hakai Magazine reports that in Greece “60 percent of stranded sperm whales show evidence of ship strikes.” Researchers have identified shipping collisions as the primary extinction threat facing the North Atlantic right whale. As International Fund for Animal Welfare researcher Russel Leaper told the magazine, “Ship strikes are probably second only to entanglement in terms of the numbers that are killed.” Research conducted by Hakai Magazine charts the explosive growth of shipping volume, which has reached new heights in past decades. If that trend continues, the situation for whales will only grow more dire. Increasing shipping traffic means increasing chances for ship strikes and, ultimately, more dead whales.

Despite the grave threats facing the sperm whales of the Canary Islands, a solution is possible. International Fund for Animal Welfare researchers and others have already published calls for alterations to shipping routes, which they say will reduce collisions with whales without significant economic cost. Hakai reports that whale researchers are calling on the Canary Islands’ government to change shipping lanes and avoid areas frequented by the imperiled whales. Add your voice to that of the scientific community and urge regulators in the Canary Islands to protect sperm whales from ship strikes.

PETITION LETTER:

Dear Minister Tejerina,

Sperm whale populations in the Canary Islands are under a grave threat. Researches estimate that sperm whale populations in the area produce an average of 2.5 whales per year, which they say is below the number killed each year by collisions with ships. Arithmetic and the stories of global whale populations arrive at the same conclusion: if nothing changes, the sperm whales of the Canary Islands will dwindle and die.

Thankfully, a regulatory solution to the plight of the sperm whale exists. Researchers with the International Fund for Animal Welfare believe the ship strikes can be reduced by diverting shipping routes from areas heavily frequented by sperm whales. Hakai Magazine reports that researcher Natacha Aguilar de Soto has already requested that your government use its regulatory authority to move shipping lanes and protect sperm whales. Please listen to her pleas. Protect sperm whales in the Canary Islands from extinction by taking action to reduce the number of ship strikes they suffer.

Sincerely,

[Your Name Here]

Photo Credit: NOAA

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One Comment

  1. D. Farrimond says:

    Make it mandatory they build safety cages around the propellers.

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