Whales, dolphins could face extinction in our lifetime, experts call for global attention

Whales could face extinction in our lifetime, experts call for global attention - We The World
Photo by Todd Cravens on Unsplash

A coalition of more than 350 scientists and conservationists from dozens of nations have signed an open letter urging countries and governments with whale populations to take immediate action or else risk their extinction.

The letter has been co-ordinated by Mark Simmonds, who’s a visiting research fellow at the University of Bristol, and a senior marine scientist with Humane Society International. It has been signed by experts from around the world.

A dreadful lack of fishing regulation, the imminent threat from bycatch, unbarred ocean pollution could mean many of the species can go extinct in our lifetimes, the letter warned, the BBC reported.

They point out half of all the species of whales, dolphins, and porpoises are in need of conservation immediately, and the threat of extinction does not even spare the large iconic species. Two of the species are on the ‘knife-edge’ of extinction, the letter said.

The North Atlantic right whale and the vaquita — a porpoise found in the Gulf of California — have declined at such a rate, there are only 10 of the later’s kind in the wild. While only a few hundreds of the former kind remains.

In the letter, the scientists say, these two species have crossed the red line of prevention, and is inevitable they’ll follow the suit of the Chinese river dolphin that once dotted the mighty Yangtze River.

The signatories of the letter are calling for urgent action backed by political will, which could gave a fate to this ‘dramatic decline.’

“It is critical that governments develop, fund, and implement additional needed actions to better protect and save these iconic species – so they don’t end going the way of the baiji,” Dr. Susan Lieberman of the Wildlife Conservation Society told the BBC. She signed the letter.

The letter pointed out how bycatch — where whales, dolphins, and porpoises get accidentally caught up in fishing gears die — remains a major cause for the death of these conserved animals that kill an estimated 300,000 each year.

It said, in the UK, bycatch is a major problem and is very eminent. Sarah Dolman of Whale and Dolphin Conservation, UK said it is a ‘horrible way to die’ by entangled in fishing nets ending up with broken teeth, beaks, or even die young.

The pandemic has had a meager effect in helping the alining species of these fascinating creatures to rebound from population decline.

Lack of ferry, boat, and ship movement in the recent few months have bought back the peeping faces of river dolphins around the world in Hong Kong, Ganges, and many other places, but that does not prove their population has rebound.

It takes joint efforts between governments and scientists to conserve and protect the nearly extinct species in respective regions. At this time, as the open letter warns, whales are facing the ‘real and imminent’ threat of extinction.

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