Our much loved whales, dolphins and basking sharks are some of the UK's most spectacular wildlife. Long-lived and slow to reproduce, they are acutely vulnerable to pollution, fishing and other human activities. We need to protect them in the few special areas where they gather to feed, breed and socialise.
After many years of campaigning by The Wildlife Trusts and others, the UK Government has finally begun protecting areas at sea so that marine life and habitats can recover from decades of damage, decline and over-exploitation.
It's long overdue but these new Marine Protected Areas (MPAs) only protect habitats and wildlife on the seabed. Its a different story for our marine 'megafauna' - the 29 different species of whales, dolphins and porpoises, and the basking sharks - regularly found around our coast. Unfortunately, these creatures are still at risk from damaging activities and some species are in decline. The nutrient-rich places they they need most for feeding, breeding and socialising are not protected - there are currently no areas of English waters protected for them, and only one in Wales.
We want to change that.
The Wildlife Trusts are proposing 17 areas around England and Wales, which should become protected areas especially for whales, basking sharks and dolphins. These are the places where these charismatic animals gather to feed, breed and socialise, and are worth protecting.
The 17 initial 'megafauna hotspots' we have identified are based on combining data gathered by The WIldlife Trusts with publicly available data. There will, of course, be other important areas for which data is not yet available. So what we are proposing here is step one. More research is needed to ensure that all the right areas have the protection they need.
Pollution, some types of fishing activities, and industrial developments at sea also affect our ocean giants, and work is underway to address these impacts. However, protecting our megafauna hotspots is an important start. These hotspots are, by their very nature, areas of high ocean productivity, so by protecting our ocean giants we will also be acting to protect our entire marine ecosystem.
Take action now!
Find out more and read the full report at www.wildlifetrusts.org/oceangiants
Sign the e-petition to be sent to the Government here
The 17 ‘megafauna hotspots’ The Wildlife Trusts want to see protected are:
1.Farnes East, Coquet to St Marys – notable for white-beaked dolphin, harbour porpoise and minke whale.
2.Mid St George’s Channel – notable for beaked common dolphin.
3.Bideford North to Foreland Point – notable for harbour porpoise.
4.East of Celtic Deep – notable for common dolphin and fin whale.
5.Celtic Deep – notable for common dolphin and fin whale.
6.South of Celtic Deep – notable for common dolphin and fin whale.
7.Western Channel – notable for common dolphin, humpback whale and fin whale.
8.Manacles – notable for basking shark, harbour porpoise and (seasonally) minke whale.
9.Lizard, Western channel – notable for common dolphin, harbour porpoise, bottlenose dolphin and basking shark.
10.Lyme Bay – notable for harbour porpoise.
11.North and west coasts of Anglesey – notable for harbour porpoise.
12.Lleyn Peninsula and the Sarnau – notable for harbour porpoise and Risso’s dolphin.
13.Cardigan Bay – notable for harbour porpoise.
14.Pembrokeshire Marine – notable for harbour porpoise.
15.North of Celtic Deep – notable for common dolphin.
16.Eastern coastline including Silver Pit – notable for harbour porpoise.
17.Dogger bank – notable for harbour porpoise and white-beaked dolphin.