Skip to content
All articles
  • All articles
  • About whales & dolphins
  • Create healthy seas
  • End captivity
  • Fundraising
  • Green Whale
  • Prevent bycatch
  • Prevent deaths in nets
  • Stop whaling
We need whale poo 📷 WDC NA

Whales are our climate allies – meet the scientists busy proving it

At Whale and Dolphin Conservation, we're working hard to bring whales and the ocean into...

It’s Time To Breach The Snake River Dams

The Snake River dams were controversial even before they were built.  While they were still...
Save the whale. Save the world.

Climate giants – how whales can help save the world

We know that whales, dolphins, and porpoises are amazing beings with complex social and family...
Nat Geo for Disney+ Luis Lamar

Five Facts About Orcas

Orcas, also known as killer whales, are one of the most recognizable and popular species...
Alexi Archer cropped

Meet the 2022 Interns: Alexi Archer

I am thrilled to welcome Alexi to WDC as the newest member of our Marine...
Saya

Meet the 2022 Interns: Saya Butani

I'm happy to welcome the newest member of the WDC team, Saya Butani, who is...
Block Island wind credit: Regina Asutis-Silvia

Offshore Wind: Don’t Blow It

Recently, new areas were added to the growing list of potential sites for offshore wind...
Sierra

Meet the 2022 Interns: Sierra Osborne

I'm delighted to introduce WDC's Conservation Education intern for Summer 2022, Sierra Osborne! Without hesitation,...

Dolphins, genetics and conservation

This past week saw the identification of yet another new species of dolphin (an Australian humpback dolphin called Sousa sahulensis): http://www.theguardian.com/environment/2014/jul/03/australian-snubfin-and-humpback-dolphins-at-risk-of-localised-extinction?utm_content=buffer59341&utm_medium=social&utm_source=facebook.com&utm_campaign=buffer

Advances in the use of genetic profiling of dolphins reveals that coastal populations are made up of increasingly smaller and relatively isolated units, rendering them especially susceptible to local extinction.

These fine scale genetic differences will require a fundamental rethink of the way science conceives of conservation. In previous times conservation focussed on large scale units and as long as the general population was not threatened the status of sub groups within the species was not considered very important.

In addition, the new but rapidly advancing field of epigenetics is demonstrating that an organism’s DNA is only part of their genetic story because the environment in which it lives actually determines how the genes function. There is even evidence that the organism’s environment is able to change the very structure of its genes so that their offspring, in essence, inherit their parent’s experiences and environment.

Advances in the study of dolphin culture also reveal behaviours passed from generation to generation which allow them to better adapt to their local environment.

All this points to two conclusions: conserving the diversity of a species means conserving its environments; and that the units of conservation will become ever smaller.

Science still knows very little about the way in which individual animals contribute to the functioning of local dolphin societies but it seems likely that we will find at least some individual dolphins play significant roles.

If (when) the significance of individual dolphins in communities is identified WDC will finally have scientific justification for that which we know to be intrinsically true: every individual dolphin in every dolphin community matters!