Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Whales In Hot Water: Global Warming's Effect On World's Largest Creatures

Date:
May 23, 2007
Source:
World Wildlife Fund
Summary:
Whales, dolphins and porpoises (cetaceans) are facing increasing threats from climate change, according to a new report. Key issues are: Changes in sea temperature; declining salinity because of the melting of ice and increased rainfall; sea level rise; loss of icy polar habitats and decline of krill populations in key areas.

Beluga whales rely on polar, icy waters for their habitat and food resources.
Credit: WWF-Canon / Kevin Schafer

Whales, dolphins and porpoises (cetaceans) are facing increasing threats from climate change, according to a new report published by WWF and the Whale and Dolphin Conservation Society.

The report "Whales in hot water?" examines the impacts on cetaceans including:

  • Changes in sea temperature
  • Declining salinity because of the melting of ice and increased rainfall
  • Sea level rise
  • Loss of icy polar habitats
  • Decline of krill populations in key areas. Krill is a tiny shrimp-like marine animal that is dependent on sea ice and is the main source of food for many of the great whales.

“Whales, dolphins and porpoises have some capacity to adapt to their changing environment,” said Mark Simmonds, International Director of Science at WCDS. “But the climate is now changing at such a fast pace that it is unclear to what extent whales and dolphins will be able to adjust, and we believe many populations to be very vulnerable to predicted changes.”

Climate change impacts are currently greatest in the Arctic and the Antarctic. According to the report, cetaceans that rely on polar, icy waters for their habitat and food resources – such as belugas, narwhal, and bowhead whales – are likely to be dramatically affected by the reduction of sea ice cover.

As sea ice cover decreases there will be more human activities such as commercial shipping, oil, gas and mining exploration and development, and military activities in previously untouched areas of the Arctic.

“This will result in much greater risks from oil and chemical spills, worse acoustic disturbance and more collisions between whales and ships,” said the lead author of the report, Wendy Elliott, from WWF’s Global Species Program.

Other projected impacts of climate change listed in the report include: reduction of available habitat for several cetacean species unable to move into colder waters (e.g. river dolphins), the acidification of the oceans as they absorb growing quantities of CO2, an increased susceptibility of cetaceans to diseases, and reduced reproductive success, body condition and survival rates.

Climate change could also be the nail in the coffin for the last 300 or so endangered North Atlantic right whales, as the survival of their calves has been directly related to the effects of climate variability on prey abundance.

WCDS and WWF are urging governments to cut CO2 global emissions by at least 50 percent by the middle of this century. The latest report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change showed it was possible to stop global warming if the world’s emissions start to decline before 2015.

The two conservation organizations further call on the International Whaling Commission to facilitate research on future impacts of climate change on cetaceans, including supporting a special climate change workshop in the coming year, elaborate conservation and management plans in light of the climate change threat, and increase efforts and resources to fight other threats to cetaceans.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by World Wildlife Fund. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

World Wildlife Fund. "Whales In Hot Water: Global Warming's Effect On World's Largest Creatures." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 23 May 2007. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2007/05/070522125023.htm>.
World Wildlife Fund. (2007, May 23). Whales In Hot Water: Global Warming's Effect On World's Largest Creatures. ScienceDaily. Retrieved July 25, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2007/05/070522125023.htm
World Wildlife Fund. "Whales In Hot Water: Global Warming's Effect On World's Largest Creatures." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2007/05/070522125023.htm (accessed July 25, 2014).

Share This




More Earth & Climate News

Friday, July 25, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Goma Cheese Brings Whiff of New Hope to DRC

Goma Cheese Brings Whiff of New Hope to DRC

Reuters - Business Video Online (July 24, 2014) The eastern region of the Democratic Republic of Congo, mainly known for conflict and instability, is an unlikely place for the production of fine cheese. But a farm in the village of Masisi, in North Kivu is slowly transforming perceptions of the area. Known simply as Goma cheese, the Congolese version of Dutch gouda has gained popularity through out the region. Ciara Sutton reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Bill Gates: Health, Agriculture Key to Africa's Development

Bill Gates: Health, Agriculture Key to Africa's Development

AFP (July 24, 2014) Health and agriculture development are key if African countries are to overcome poverty and grow, US software billionaire Bill Gates said Thursday, as he received an honourary degree in Ethiopia. Duration: 00:36 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Higgins Breaks Record at Mt. Washington

Higgins Breaks Record at Mt. Washington

Driving Sports (July 24, 2014) Subaru Rally Team USA drivers David Higgins and Travis Pastrana face off against a global contingent of racers at the annual Mt. Washington Hillclimb in New Hampshire. Includes exclusive in-car footage from Higgins' record attempt. Video provided by Driving Sports
Powered by NewsLook.com
Storm Kills Three, Injures 20 at Virginia Campground

Storm Kills Three, Injures 20 at Virginia Campground

Reuters - US Online Video (July 24, 2014) A likely tornado tears through an eastern Virginia campground, killing three and injuring at least 20. Linda So reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

    Health News

      Environment News

        Technology News



          Save/Print:
          Share:

          Free Subscriptions


          Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

          Get Social & Mobile


          Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

          Have Feedback?


          Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
          Mobile: iPhone Android Web
          Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
          Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
          Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins