Ocean Giants

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.

elephant seal

Elephant Seal

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.

Hawksbill Turtle

Hawksbill Sea Turtle

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.

Humpback Whale

Humpback Whale

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.

Irrawaddy Dolphin

Irrawaddy Dolphin

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.

Leatherback Sea Turtle

Leatherback Sea Turtle

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.

Pacific Walrus

Pacific Walrus

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.

west african manatee

West African Manatee

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.

From the Newsroom

DNA Tells of Two Blue Whale PopulationsDecember 19, 2014

By collecting and analyzing the DNA of 60 blue whales, a group of scientists determined there may be two distinct populations in the southeastern Pacific Ocean. This information could help inform an effective protection plan for this endangered species.

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