Whales are the largest animals on the planet with the largest species, Blue Whales, weighing at least 209 tons!
Needless to say, these huge creatures are a vital part of ocean ecosystems. Whales help maintain a stable food chain by consuming species that would otherwise overpopulate and cause an imbalance. For example, a Blue Whale can eat up to 40 million krill per day!
Whales even help with the air we breathe. It is estimated that as much as 400,000 tons of carbon are extracted from the air each year due to sperm whales, whose excretions help stimulate the growth of phytoplankton that pull carbon from the atmosphere and provide a cleaner, healthier breathing environment.
These amazing creatures are currently at high risk. As ocean pollution continues to increase, whales are some of the species most negatively impacted and put in danger of survival. Over half of whale and dolphin species have consumed harmful plastic debris that they mistake for food. At least 100,000 sea mammals are killed each year by pollution. It’s estimated that up to 12 million tons of plastic – a truckload of trash every minute – ends up in our oceans every year.
And it’s more than just plastic pollution. Noise pollution from the increased presence of ships, sonar devices and oil rigs have a major impact on whales and dolphins who rely on sound to find food, communicate and navigate.
At this point, you’re probably becoming depressed and about to navigate away from this page, but wait! There’s hope. There are many organizations working towards the specific goal of protecting whales and their marine environments. Our partners over at Ocean Alliance have been leading key whale research programs since 1971. In fact, it was founder Dr. Roger Payne who first discovered that whales sing songs, and the Ocean Alliance 'Voyage of the Oddyssey' gathered the first ever data set on pollutants throughout the world’s oceans from 1999 to 2005.
Ocean Alliance has even pioneered the development of non-invasive technology to study whales without disturbing them. Ocean Alliance invented SnotBot, a drone that hovers safely over a whale and collects samples of the snot expelled from their blowholes. The SnotBot provides treasure troves of data to researchers, which allow them to sequence DNA, measure stress and hormone levels and determine virus and bacterial loads. This in turn helps them determine courses of action to best help protect whales and improve their environments.
We’re proud to partner with this incredible organization that is working towards a brighter future for whales and the ocean. Click here to learn more about Ocean Alliance ocean conservation efforts, including their Whale Adoption program!
Don’t forget to spread the word about dangers facing whales and our oceans every time someone asks about your Clam and Clasp handcrafted seashell jewelry, and share on social media using #SpeakfortheSea!