Solve or mitigate these conservation challenges. This requires time, resources, sophisticated technological advancements, and practical conservation solutions and it is being done in collaboration with governments, scientists, conservation organizations, international agencies, and coastal communities.
Specifically, we employ a few key strategies:
- Conduct cutting-edge field conservation and science.
- Protect key habitats.
- Mitigate the impacts from threats.
- Implement progressive policy changes and elevate awareness about the most important challenges.
On Our Strategies
Conduct Cutting-Edge Field Conservation and Science
With whales, WCS employs a range of techniques, including acoustic monitoring, satellite tracking, and conservation genetics to better understand populations, to define their most biologically important habitats. Using genetic analyses, WCS plays a leading role in outlining the population differences for many great whale species—including humpback whales, blue whales, and right whales.
Similarly advanced work is being done with dolphins. Through range-wide genetic sampling and analyses, WCS science provided clear evidence for the number of humpback dolphins, including the discovery and description of a new dolphin species. From acoustic monitoring of dolphin vocalizations to surveys along the entire coastline of Tanzania, WCS efforts generate essential baselines about dolphins in need of conservation attention.
Protect Key Habitats
WCS is working to ensure that biologically important habitats are legally designated as marine protected areas (MPAs). In 2014, Gabon declared 23% of its territorial waters as an MPA network that will help safeguard whales and other marine species. In Bangladesh, WCS helped the government establish three wildlife sanctuaries for freshwater dolphins and, in 2014, worked with the country on its first MPA, encompassing more than 1,700 square kilometers. It will safeguard dolphins, whales, and other marine life.
Mitigate the Impacts From Threats
For whales, among others, increasing human-generated ocean noise is a key issue. WCS is 'listening' for whales in key areas of the world, including Arctic-Beringia, New York's waters, the Congo Basin Coast, the Western Indian Ocean, and more. These efforts generate important baseline data and we use the information to recommend and guide the implementation of 'best practices' that mitigate impacts to whales and other species.
From the northern and western Indian Ocean to the Gulf of Guinea, WCS is also working to reduce and eliminate bycatch, an essential issue for dolphin populations. In Congo, WCS has worked with local fishing communities to eliminate catches of Atlantic humpback dolphins, a species potentially on the brink of extinction. While in Bangladesh, WCS teams have collaborated with fishers to form dolphin safety networks. Plus, in Madagascar and the western Indian Ocean, WCS is working to transform practices, turning dolphin hunters to dolphin watchers, generating more sustainable financing through ecotourism.
Implement Progressive Policy Changes and
Elevate Awareness About the Most Important Challenges
The challenges facing whales are of great interest to the public, yet it can be difficult for people to put them in context. Through our scientific and media efforts, WCS highlights the issues and challenges for whale recovery. Recent high-profile issues for whales have been highlighted in the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, and the Washington Post, among others.
For dolphins, WCS does extensive outreach, connecting with everyone from rural villagers and fishers to park managers and senior wildlife officials. In our priority regions, festivals, targeted meetings, and even 'floating' educational experiences build a much-needed constituency for dolphin conservation. And advancing on the strong science and dolphin discoveries, policies and laws to better protect these populations and species are now being implemented or strengthened.