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Celebrate whale and dolphin day with Clim8 and ORCA

Clim8 Team

22 July 2022 Climate ChangeSustainability

Discussing dolphins with ORCA

Did you know that whales and dolphins are carbon-capturing machines? It’s why we’re proud to partner with leading whale, dolphin and porpoise charity ORCA for our referral programme. And it’s also why we’ve asked ORCA to tell us – and you – a bit more about these amazing creatures and how we can protect their vulnerable populations. 

Whales, dolphins and porpoises (also known as cetaceans) have an almost unique ability to inspire us about the ocean, and for many people the experience of seeing them is a life-changing one. 

Many people think that these iconic animals can only be seen by traveling to a world-renowned hotspot like Iceland or Alaska, but the truth is that the waters of the UK are also home to a range of different species.

Remember Flipper?

One of the most fascinating is the bottlenose dolphin, which is found around the UK and is arguably the most famous of the dolphin species. Its distinctive beak (long mouth), playful behaviour and inclusion in movies and TV shows such as Flipper has made it an animal that most people would instantly recognise. Sadly, it’s also one of the most common species of marine mammal found in captivity around the world.

The bottlenose dolphins around the UK are the largest found anywhere in the world, reaching 4 metres long and weighing up to 500kg. Their large size is essential for them to survive in the colder waters around the UK, and some hotspots include the Moray Firth in Scotland and Cardigan Bay in Wales, both home to important populations of this species.

Though bottlenose dolphins globally are doing well as a species, they still face a wide range of threats around the UK. Like all small cetaceans, they are at risk of bycatch, where they are tangled and drowned in fishing nets, and they are also susceptible to chemical pollutants like PCBs, which cause them significant health issues. 

The unexpected danger to dolphins

However, the biggest threat to this species around the UK comes from an unexpected source – whale and dolphin watching. As an inquisitive and playful species, bottlenose dolphins are a dolphin watcher’s delight, often coming to investigate vessels and putting on a show with playful splashes and breaches.

But their playful nature means that they are often at risk from dolphin watching vessels, whether from commercial operators or leisure boat users who happened to have spotted a pod. These vessels can represent a serious threat to individual animals if they don’t follow the proper guidelines for responsible whale watching. 

Propellers can cause serious injury or death, and fast moving vessels can not only strike the animals when they come to the surface, but the noise from their engines can stress and disorientate them as well.

Even more worryingly, disturbance of a group can cause it to abandon rich feeding grounds or an important habitat for the species, and this can have a significant negative impact on the health of the pod. 

Disturbing cetaceans and seals is actually an offense in the UK. These species are all protected by the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981, and fines for reckless or deliberate disturbance, harassment, killing and injury can be up to £5,000.

Making a difference together

Bottlenose dolphins, like all cetaceans, are an essential part of a healthy ocean, and they represent one of the best ways we have of reversing the impact of climate change. Because of this, Clim8 and ORCA want to make sure that everyone can enjoy these animals in a responsible way.

If you are booking a whale or dolphin trip around the UK, please check out the operator beforehand and make sure that they are responsible. The International Whaling Commission has a fantastic handbook with all the information you need to help you choose the right operator who respects and supports the animals they are watching. 

To find out more, including about how you can become a citizen scientist helping to monitor and protect species like bottlenose dolphins around the UK, visit the ORCA website

About our partnership with ORCA

Did you know that one whale locks away the same amount of carbon as thousands of trees? At Clim8, we’re excited to be able to play our part in supporting whale conservation through our referral partnership with ORCA. Each time our customers invite friends or family members to join the Clim8 community, we make a £40 donation to ORCA on their behalf and support the great work they do.

Here’s how you – and our whole community – could help ORCA’s vital work, just by sharing Clim8 with the people who matter most.

With one referral:

– ORCA can add a new species to the ORCA OceanWatchers app, to let their citizen scientists collect data

With 10 referrals:

– ORCA can create and share a brand new lesson for schools around the country to use as a part of Whale Education Month, teaching them about how whales and dolphins help fight climate change

– ORCA can be represented at international bodies, making key decisions globally about creating and enforcing new protections for whales, dolphins and porpoises

With 50 referrals:

– ORCA can cover the cost of managing and analysing their data for an entire year, allowing them to share it with policymakers and help identify important new hotspots that need protection

– ORCA can secure specialist analysis of their research, allowing them to publish important scientific papers that can help to further our understanding of whales and dolphins

To find out more how you can refer others to Clim8 and support ORCA’s essential mission – Click here to visit our referrals page

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