When animals are put under the protection of the United States’ Endangered Species Act (ESA) the protected species tend to rebound. Recently a new study found that when sea turtle populations were put under protection that the population soared upwards by 980%. This follows the success of the Hawaiian humpback whales resurgence under the ESA from a low of 800 whales to roughly 10,000 today. This is further evidence that when we do act as a society to protect species (or the planet) that we can do so rather effectively. All that’s needed is political will.
A team of researchers looked at 31 marine populations and found that the populations of 78% of marine mammals and 75% of sea turtles rebounded after receiving protections under the law.
The median sea turtle population increased by 980% following the regulations established by the ESA, and the median increase for mammals was 115%.
Increased coverage in media about the inhumane treatments of marine animals by entertainment facilities are impacting Canadian laws. Thanks to the efforts of documentarians, like in Blackfish, and concerned citizens Canada is making it illegal to capture dolphins and whales. Criminal code penalties are being considered by the senate to really drive home that Canada thinks this practice is wrong.
“The public acceptance of keeping these majestic creatures in captivity has changed and we think the law should also change to reflect that so we’re going to ban the taking of cetaceans,” Fisheries Minister Dominic LeBlanc told reporters in Vancouver. “We think Canadians massively support that principle.”
There has been no live-capture of cetaceans for captivity in Canada since 1992. In recent years, however, wild-caught beluga whales and bottlenose dolphins have been imported from foreign sources.
The Senate bill would prohibit the import of a cetacean, or the sperm, a tissue culture or an embryo of one of these mammals.
A system of buoys that will warn boats of the presence of whales has been put in place along a part of the east coast of the USA. The network of buoys listen for sounds that whales make and then the network will relay messages to boaters in the area to stay clear of the undersea creatures.
They have developed a cutting-edge underwater listening system to protect the creatures from their number one killer: ships. The Massachusetts Bay network can track right whales by their signature call – and in as little as 20 minutes warn mariners to slow if they’re too close.
The devices are also giving scientists unprecedented insight into how the creatures change behavior to respond to the cacophony of man-made noises in the bay.
“We need to listen to these whales” to save them, said Christopher W. Clark, director of Cornell University’s Bioacoustics Research Program, which developed the technology with Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution.
Clarks said an increasing number of pipelines, cruise ships, tankers, and construction projects are drowning out the whales’ soft calls, making it difficult for them to connect. Clark has evidence that the whales simply don’t “whoop” when the bay gets too noisy.
“In the world of right whales, we know it’s a noisy place to live,” Clark said in an e-mail. “Underwater [is] not much different than living on the tarmac at Logan.”