As human beings, we have a very important responsibility towards the other creatures with whom we share the planet, especially those that face the threat of extinction.
Among the most remarkable animal groups that live in our waters are the whales. These aquatic mammals are some of the largest and the most widespread, inhabiting all oceans. Humpback whales, for example, can be found from Japan and United States down to Australia. However, some species are targets for being kept in captivity to perform tricks in theme parks, and some are being hunted for meat. A number have been declared Critically Endangered by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN).
There’s a lot that we can do to help protect whales and other marine wildlife. Here are a few of them.
WHAT'S COVERED IN THIS GUIDE?
1. Keep an eye on your carbon footprint.
Reducing your carbon footprint and actively lowering your energy consumption is the first and most important way in which you can truly make a difference. One large factor that is resulting in the deaths of marine and sea animals is climate change, which is partly due to increased levels of carbon in the air.
What is your part in the matter? Stop taking the car to work! Buy a cycle instead and take it to work every day. When it comes to saving resources and energy, learn how to recycle and reuse, take the stairs instead of the elevator (it’s healthier, as well). As you can see, there are a ton of things that you can do!
2. Use fewer plastic-made products.
Plastic is non-biodegradable, which is why disposing it off properly is very difficult. The ocean is, in most cases, the likely recipient of our plastic wastes. Some plastic items and products end up in the tummies of many marine wildlife, contribute to the destruction of habitats, and kill countless life forms, including whales.
How can you make a difference? You can carry a reusable water bottle, use recyclable containers, and switch to paper bags that can be re-used easily.
3: Support organizations working to protect the ocean.
Say YES to organizations that champion conservation and say NO to those that mistreat it.
In Australia alone, several non-profit organizations and institutions diligently work to protect ocean habitats and marine wildlife. You can volunteer at such organizations, for hands-on work or even just aid them financially in the form of donations.
4. Travel responsibly.
As travelers, the decisions we make on the road can affect in the protection or abuse of marine life. Practice and follow responsible boating, kayaking and other water based recreational activities. While aboard a cruise or even a small boat, don’t throw anything in the water.
Never visit and watch a whale or dolphin show!
5: Influence change in your community.
Elect public officials who are serious about protecting marine life. Before placing in your precious vote, be sure to research on the ocean policies that candidates have and if they already have a marine conservation project underway.
Try and educate the local shop-keepers, restaurant owners regarding this very serious concern as well, so that they are able to make informed choices too.
About the author: Colin works for ozwhalewatching.com.au, a socially responsible and sustainable whale-watching tour company in Sydney, Australia.