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CARIBBEAN - conservation

Greenpeace environmental threats

Permission requested to use information and photographs from Greenpeace

Humpback whale singing. The marine environment, home to the world's great whales, is under a sustained threat from the consequences of human activities, including climate change, ozone depletion, toxic pollution and increasingly intensive fisheries.

These threats to the marine environment threaten the entire web of life in the oceans, especially plankton, organisms that form the basis of all ocean food chains. Changes in the abundance and composition of plankton affect the stability of populations at higher levels in the food chain, and whales, as high level consumers, will be particularly vulnerable to changes in plankton productivity.

But more direct effects on whales are also probable.

Compliments of Greenpeace Declines in some marine mammal populations have already been linked to food shortages brought about by the intensification of commercial fishing. The increasing presence of persistent organic pollutants (POPs), such as the pesticide DDT and PCBs, can cause reproductive failure and are potent suppressers of immune systems.

Increasing numbers of whale scientists are also concerned that the volume of noise emanating from shipping, oil and gas exploration and other sources may disrupt normal whale behaviour, displacing them from their preferred habitat and interfering with communications. The sheer volume of the noise may be harmful to individual whales affecting their reproductive success thus impacting at the population level.

Compliments of GreenpeaceSome of these factors will have a cumulative effect on the world's whales and, when they act together, are expected to cause even greater harm. Of all the threats facing whales, commercial whaling is the only one that can be eliminated simply and cheaply, yet Japan and Norway continue to push for resumed commercial whaling. Anything less than a precautionary approach is unacceptable in the effort to conserve whales. A failure to do so may extinguish any hope of long term protection for the world's whale populations.

For more information about environmental threats, visit the Greenpeace web site.

Information compliments of Greenpeace


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