We work to reduce the oceanic threats that marine mammals face and improve their survival.
Whales, dolphins, and porpoises (a group known as “cetaceans”) are highly intelligent marine mammals with complex social behaviors. They play a key role in maintaining healthy marine ecosystems. They help cycle nutrients in the ocean and their excrement supports phytoplankton, which absorbs greenhouse gases from the atmosphere. Whales capture enormous amounts of carbon over their lifetimes and sequester it when they die and sink to the ocean floor, helping the fight against climate change.
Increased human-inflicted threats such as underwater noise from ships, collisions with vessels, and unsustainable fishing practices lead to bycatch and entanglement of these animals, threatening their ability to communicate, feed, breed, and survive. The North Atlantic right whale, for instance, is critically endangered and teeters on the brink of extinction
Due to the growing threats marine mammals face, there is an urgent need to find practical solutions that reduce those threats and ensure their survival.
By combining marine rescue and conservation, this project will provide first responders and marine communities worldwide with expertise on how to rescue cetaceans in distress and release them into safer, healthier environments. We are piloting an intensive care approach for stranded marine mammals on Cape Cod in the United States, a hotspot for strandings. By improving the care stranded animals receive, we expect this initiative to significantly increase the survival rate of mass stranded marine mammals worldwide.
To enhance knowledge of first aid, cetacean responders around the world, we will provide global training (in person and online) and offer internship opportunities on Cape Cod.
We aim to ensure that rescued marine mammals are getting released into a safe ocean environment. To that end, we are working to reduce ocean noise and whale collisions with ships. We will lobby for slower speeds in EU waters and more sustainable fishing practices to diminish bycatch and entanglements.
We are grateful to the Dutch Postcode Lottery for supporting IFAW in our work to help save as many marine mammals as possible.
Through this project, we plan to:
- Build and pilot a first-of-its-kind Cetacean Intensive Care Unit for short-term medical care of stranded marine mammals.
- Develop global resources, trainings, and internships for around 275 first responders to improve their skills and expertise so they can better help stranded marine mammals.
- Reduce ocean noise by educating the public on the most pressing threats and workable solutions.
- Lobby governments and European institutions to adjust and develop crucial policy measures to reduce ship speeds in EU waters.
- Reduce and eliminate bycatch and entanglements to protect marine mammals from accidental capture in fishing gear.