Ocean giants like whales, sea turtles, sharks, and dolphins are an increasingly rare sight in the world’s great seascapes. Commercial hunting, pollution, habitat destruction, and entanglement in fishing gear have decimated their numbers. Despite the grave threats, these creatures are also remarkably resilient creatures. They undertake vast migrations that span huge swaths of the globe, following the same complex route year after year. WCS works from the nesting beaches of Sulawesi’s sea turtles to the breeding grounds of Madagascar’s humpback whales to guard that route—and the future of the world’s ocean giants—through cooperative management, training, and education.
Although big and blubbery, elephant seals are excellent swimmers, spending up to 10 months fishing in the open sea. The species gets its name from the male's large
proboscis, which resembles an elephant's trunk.
Hawksbills undertake long-distance migrations through the world's warm waters. They stand out from other sea turtles with their sharp, curving beak and the saw-like edge on their shell.
Its acrobatic stunts and haunting “songs” have made southern humpback whale a tourist attraction worldwide. The future of the species depends on the conservation of marine habitats and wildlife.
The small Irrawaddy dolphin lives in rivers and lagoons in South and Southeast Asia. WCS strives to establish protected areas to shield these dolphins from threats like entanglement in gill nets.
The leatherback turtle is the largest species of sea turtle and can swim thousands of miles across ocean basins. The species faces myriad challenges, including habitat destruction and entanglement in nets.
Built for the extreme conditions of the Arctic, walruses spend about two-thirds of their lives in frigid waters, and the other third on land. These marine mammals migrate with the pack ice, traveling south during the Arctic winter and north during spring.
The most endangered of all manatees, the West African manatee swims and eats off the continent's Atlantic coastline. Poaching and habitat destruction pose the greatest threats.
The largest living fish, whale sharks are purported to grow up to 65 feet long, but feed on the smallest of sea creatures—namely, zooplankton, small squid, jellyfish, and sprat plankton. They live in tropical and subtropical oceans.