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
Clear the list graphic

Clear WDC’s Amazon Wishlist for Giving Tuesday

The holiday season is knocking on our doors and Giving Tuesday is coming up soon!...
Fin whales are targeted by Icelandic whalers

Speaking truth to power – my week giving whales a voice

The International Whaling Commission (IWC) meeting is where governments come together to make decisions about whaling...
The Codfather being good with Anvil kick feeding right next to them_0761 branded

Spout Spotters: Boater Safety Around Whales Online Course Launches

After countless hours behind the computer, bountiful snacks, and a few stress relieving walks with...
WDC team at UN Ocean conference

Give the ocean a chance – our message from the UN Ocean Conference

I'm looking out over the River Tejo in Lisbon, Portugal, reflecting on the astounding resilience...
65556ab2635fdab7b4e12265b9623d64

Stream to Sea: Orca Action Month 2022

This June was an exceptionally busy and exciting Orca Month, starting with a somewhat surprising...
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...
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...

The times they are a-changing

I’ve had that tune in my head a lot these last few days, what with the great Bob Dylan being awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature and TripAdvisor announcing that it will no longer allow users to book activities that involve contact with endangered species or captive wild animals

I started working at WDC in 2000 and things have changed a lot since then. In those days, if I talked to someone about dolphins in captivity, more often than not it wouldn’t even have crossed their mind that there was an issue. Now, whatever your feelings on the subject, I don’t think many people in this country would be unaware that there is controversy around keeping whales and dolphins in tanks.

This shift in public consciousness isn’t just around whales and dolphins. As a society we are far more aware of the dubious ethics of using any non-human species in a circus, to give us a ride or to entertain us. Can you imagine the P.G. Tips chimpanzee advert making a comeback? I don’t think so.

The hard work and tenacity of organisations like WDC and the public profile given to the issues by films like Blackfish have opened people’s eyes. The rapid growth of technology means everyone has a camera in their pocket and everyone can shoot video. The communications revolution means that we are all potential investigative journalists with an eager readership. Ideas can be shared at a rate we couldn’t really have imagined, even as recently as 2000.

So I don’t think it’s a matter of ‘can we end whale and dolphin captivity’ as it was when I first came to work here. I think it’s a matter of ‘when will we end whale and dolphin captivity?’ and ‘what can we do to make the cruelty stop sooner?’.

To this end we are working hard to facilitate change within the travel industry. Days after we launched our campaign urging Virgin to stop selling trips to SeaWorld, Richard Branson instructed Virgin Holidays not to do business with any company that didn’t pledge never again to take whales and dolphins from the wild. He also called a ground-breaking meeting bringing together representatives of the captivity industry, the travel industry and whale and dolphin experts and campaigners, including WDC.

We are trying hard to stop British Airways supporting SeaWorld and we are keen to meet with them to discuss the irrefutable science that they asked for and to explore a change to their position following SeaWorld’s decision to phase out its captive orca programme.

An ally in our efforts is ABTA, the UK’s largest travel association, who in 2013 created welfare guidelines for animals in tourism including dolphins in captivity.  We fed into the development of the guidelines and contribute regularly to their animal welfare working group.


My colleague, Rob Lott met with ABTA a few weeks ago and had a really positive discussion. He reported back that ABTA are making implementation of the guidelines a priority.  They are due to review the guidelines in 2018 and so we will contribute to that. Trusted organisations like TripAdvisor and ABTA are acknowledging the issues and endeavouring to be a part of the solution.

We’ve got a long way to go, don’t get me wrong, but when I reflect on the struggle it used to be to even get people to recognise that keeping whales and dolphins in tanks for human entertainment might not be harmless fun, I realise how far we have come. One day as a species we will look back in shame at the way we treated the creatures we share this planet with. But for now, the times they are a-changing, and on days like these when I am feeling hopeful, I think they are changing faster than we really ever dared to believe that they would.

Be part of the change – sign the petition.