Public Education and Outreach
A multitude of organizations use their expertise as educators and advocates to push for protection, conservation, research and better understanding of cetaceans. Several of those groups have connections to our region.
They include Whale and Dolphin Conservation, Woods Hole Sea Grant, MIT Sea Grant, Center for Coastal Studies, National Marine Life Center, New England Aquarium, NOAA Office of Education, NOAA Marine Sanctuary Program, Massachusetts Marine Educators, National Marine Educators Association, North American Marine Environment Protection Association, and Rhode Island Audubon Society. We encourage you to connect with at least one of them. Sharing the Seas: Safe Boating for Sailors and Whales (pdf)
Local and National and International Activism
Some issues, such as marine mammal captivity, marine park shows, and dolphin drives, have led to vocal and visible displays from citizens in opposition to these practices. Others use their film skills, their writing talents, or their ability to lobby politicians and staff to serve as voices for the animals that need protection. Locally, the New Bedford Whaling Museum worked with several partners to keep a rule to cut down on ship strikes by large vessels. This rule was originally put in place for five years to test its effectiveness. Now it is permanent.
A popular way to contribute to the protection of our watery resources is to help with a beach cleanup. Sometimes just an hour of cleaning by a dedicated group of volunteers can make a visible difference and remove several bags worth of debris. As always, encourage friends and family to be careful when disposing of trash so that it doesn’t blow away and become litter.
A handful of voluntary certification programs to encourage and demonstrate a commitment to protecting the marine environment have been created by non-profit organizations. One example is Whale SENSE, developed by Whale and Dolphin Conservation, which trains whale watch operators and staff in responsible operation of their boats around cetaceans. Another is Green Marine, based in Quebec, which focuses on the North American marine industry. This initiative involves shipowners, ports, terminals, Seaway corporations and shipyards.
Reduce, Reuse, Recycle
Buying Habits: What we buy and how we buy has an impact on the world around us.
Although this phrase seems like a simplified response to a complex problem, these words are worth following. By reducing consumption of single-use items, making use of reusable objects like water bottles and coffee mugs, and recycling problematic items like plastic bags (bring them to the grocery store for recycling) you are putting fewer objects onto our planet, and helping to keep them out of the ocean. Better yet, if you buy just one product, get the receipt and carry the product out without putting it in a bag.
Locally grown foods and locally made products have a much shorter trip to the shelves of stores. These shorter trips use less fuel, which means less pollution and carbon dioxide getting into the air we breathe and into the atmosphere. Cetaceans are air breathing mammals, just like you are. Buying locally is also better for area businesses. Unfortunately, more than 90% of the seafood eaten in the US is either caught or processed in other countries.
Also, it may be worth considering an evaluation of your buying habits. Most products have excess packaging. This may end up in the ocean. More products also means more shipping.
Some practices for catching and farming seafood species are more sustainable than others. This means they are more considerate of the long-term health of the species, of the ocean, and of that particular fishery or business. These efforts include:
- avoiding species that are not the intended target (by-catch)
- rotating areas that are open to fishing
- no use of growth hormones in fish farms
- proper management of aquaculture waste
- buying seafood locally
Image Credit: Regal Springs Tilapia at RegalSprings.com