Volunteering for whale conservation is a great opportunity to get close to these majestic ocean inhabitants and learn more about their protection and the threats they are facing. If you have always been fascinated by whales and marine biology, a whale conservation internship is perfect for you! Volunteer for whale conservation along the shores of Plettenberg Bay in South Africa or Tenerife, one of the Canary Islands in Europe, and monitor the movements and behaviors of different whale species. Collecting these data will help to develop effective protection measures and to gain a deeper knowledge of the whales and their environment
Volunteers passionate about the ocean will undoubtedly know the largest mammal on our planet. Whales come in different shapes and sizes but are nearing extinction for several reasons. Those of you who are concerned about life in the ocean can volunteer for a whale conservation project. Help with research on these loners of the sea and observe their behavior. Keep track of their numbers to support future conservation efforts. Divers, snorkelers will be delighted as they immerse themselves in the underwater world. Volunteer for a whale conservation program abroad and witness some of the grandest species of the sea in Africa, Europe or the Caribbean are awaiting your help.
When we think of these massive sea creatures, we generally think of the orca and the blue whale. Orcas have sadly been used to entertain people in sea parks for decades while the blue whale is known as the largest mammal on the planet. There are plenty more species however and there may be a few facts you may not have known about them, so let’s get started:
According to the IUCN SSC Cetacean Specialist Group (CSG), 20 out of 89 whale species are considered endangered or vulnerable. There are so many different species it’s difficult to keep track of each of them separately. For some species, there’s no recording of their population at all.
The two main categories are baleen and toothed whales. The main difference between these types is their size and manner of feeding. Baleen whales feed through the baleen while the toothed variant uses their teeth. Baleen whales are huge ranging from 6m to 34 m. Toothed whales are more moderate in size ranging from 1.4m to 20m. Did you know that dolphins are actually categorized as toothed whales?
The past has proven to be a difficult time for the baleen whale as they were hunted for commercial reasons. Early humans hunted them for food and oil but in the 19th and 20th century, whalebone became another reason they were so coveted. Whalebone was used for women’s corsets, buggy whips, and umbrella ribs. Nowadays, whalebone has been replaced by plastic.
Although various efforts have been made in the past years to protect this humongous sea mammal, several species still remain endangered. Let’s take a closer look at some of the factors that are contributing to this:
There are still countries that allow commercial whaling activities. This is affecting populations of certain whale species and will continue to contribute to their declining numbers if nothing changes.
Whales are still frequent victims of bycatch during legal fishing activities. Although technology is improving, bycatch remains a huge threat.
Increased coastal traffic for travel tourism purposes including diving, whale watching, and fishing poses a significant risk to the whale, the dolphin as well as other large sea animals as they can collide with the boat or the propellers causing serious injuries.
Garbage ranging from cans to plastic bags and bottles often end up in the sea posing a huge health threat as the marine life ingests toxic and indigestible trash. Marine pollution poses a huge threat nowadays affecting all species.
These are a few of the main reasons why these creatures are threatened. If you enjoy diving, are fascinated by the underwater world and eager to help, volunteer for a marine conservation program and work toward giving the giants of the ocean a better fighting chance.