Urgent call by global experts for our most vulnerable whales, dolphins and porpoises worldwide

World Wildlife Fund –

20th Century whaling nearly wiped out many species of whale worldwide. While some species, such as humpback whales, have bounced back due to strong management measures, a third of the world’s cetaceans – whales, dolphins and porpoises – are still threatened with extinction.

The critically endangered Vaquita porpoise, only found in the upper Gulf of California, Mexico, sits poised on the knife-edge of extinction, with an estimated population size that may be as low as ten individuals. In New Zealand, Māui Dolphins, with only about 60 individuals remaining, are also in urgent need of complete threat removal to enable recovery. Even large whales like the North Atlantic Right Whale are in trouble with only 250 left. Many discrete populations  could become locally or regionally extinct.

Many factors, from chemical and noise pollution, loss of habitat and prey, climate change, disease and ship-strikes are adversely affecting various populations. However,  foremost among the threats for many species is bycatch, the incidental take in fishing operations, including abandoned fishing nets known as ghost gear. Many cetaceans experts are worried that populations are slipping towards extinction within our lifetimes.

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