We are united by, and for, cetaceans

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‘Nature Knows no Borders’ is the theme of the Convention on Migratory Species (CMS) COP14, taking place this week in Samarkand, Uzbekistan. Migratory animals like whales, dolphins and porpoises, who travel enormous distances every year, aren’t restricted by human concepts like boundaries.

This is the reason why the CMS was established, as well as our own WCA Partnership! Recognising the migratory nature of cetaceans, the WCA was founded to unite individuals, communities and organisations across the world in protecting these wide-ranging animals and their habitats.

Bringing people together

Cetaceans not only need international cooperation to survive, but they also play an important part in connecting communities globally. A fantastic example of this is the Southern Hemisphere Humpback Whale Migration Route in southern Africa.

An annual ‘Welcoming the Whales’ festival began in Algoa Bay Whale Heritage Area in 2018, championed by Lloyd Edwards, founder of responsible whale watching tour operator Raggy Charters. Since then, the celebrations have spread along the southern coastline, following the route of the humpback whales’ migration, and now reach as far as Gabon on the west coast and Kenya in the east!

Lloyd’s tireless work in raising awareness of the humpback migration in communities throughout southern Africa reflects the incredible journey of the whales themselves. It’s a beautiful thought that the whales being welcomed as they arrive off the coast of Algoa Bay in early June are the very same individuals being celebrated as they pass through the waters off Watamu in late August.

Increasingly under threat

Sadly, a new UN report shows that migratory animals such as whales are at increasing risk of extinction. The biggest threat is overexploitation, with 70% of protected migratory species found to be affected by hunting and fishing activities, whether directly or incidentally.

The report stated that measures to reduce incidental bycatch from fishing were “urgently needed”, including increased remote monitoring of fisheries – one of the actions that we’re calling for as part of our Dolphins Aren’t Discard campaign.

From bycatch to climate change and environmental pollution, it’s clear that the problems facing cetaceans can’t be tackled in isolation. The WCA’s mission of global collaboration has never been more important as we, and others around the world, look beyond international borders to celebrate and protect these amazing animals.

Image credits: Header photo of humpback whales (7inchs, via Pexels); Southern African Humpback Whale Migration Route map (Raggy Charters); photos of ‘Fluke’ the whale banner and Welcoming the Whales celebration in Kenya (Raggy Charters); photo of humpback whales in Golfo Dulce Whale Heritage Area (Pacific Ecology).

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