Skip to content
All news
  • All news
  • About whales & dolphins
  • Corporates
  • Create healthy seas
  • End captivity
  • Green Whale
  • Prevent bycatch
  • Prevent deaths in nets
  • Science
  • Scottish Dolphin Centre
  • Stop whaling
  • Stranding
WDC provides supportive care to a live-stranded common dolphin. Credit: Andrea Spence/IFAW

Whale and Dolphin Conservation Expands Marine Mammal Stranding Network Territory

The Whale and Dolphin Conservation team expands the Greater Atlantic Regional Marine Mammal Stranding Network...
Hysazu Photography | Sara Shimazu

Dam Good News for Southern Resident orcas

Pardon the pun (we've used it before) but we just can't help ourselves.  After decades...
Peter Flood mom and calf

Emergency Petition Seeks to Shield Right Whale Moms, Calves From Vessel Strikes

For Immediate Release, November 1, 2022 WASHINGTON-Conservation groups filed an emergency rulemaking petition with the...
The Yushin Maru catcher ship of the Japanese whaling fleet injures a whale with its first harpoon attempt, and takes a further three harpoon shots before finally killing the badly injured fleeing whale. Finally they drowned the mammal beneath the harpooon deck of the ship to kill it.  Southern Ocean.  07.01.2006

Moves to overturn whaling ban rejected

Last week, the 68th meeting of the International Whaling Commission (IWC, the body that regulates...

I signed a petition…now what?

Image: Peter Flood
Copy of Newsletter 2020 Graphics
Peter Flood

What happens after you sign a petition? Luckily, we have some incredible people on our staff to answer some of my questions so I called up Colleen, one of our policy pros.

North Atlantic right whale. Photo by Regina Asmutis-Sylvia

Our petition might be closed but that doesn't mean you can't keep helping right whales! Raise your RIGHT hand and sign our pledge!

Sabrina: I signed WDC’s petitions to help right whales, now where does the petition get sent?

Colleen: It all depends on the petition! This specific petition (for North Atlantic right whales) was sent to the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS), the federal agency responsible for management of marine mammals in the U.S.  NMFS develops new regulations to protect whales and dolphins, is in charge of putting those regulations to work, and assessing them for any changes or updates that are needed. Both of our recent right whale actions were updates to existing regulations – to reduce entanglements and vessel strikes – that were in desperate need of updates and changes to be better for right whales.

Sabrina: That makes sense! So NMFS will see how many people want those regulations updated. But why does having a certain amount of signatures matter?

Colleen: Well because signatures = people who are using their voices to speak up for whales and dolphins, and more is always better! More people make a big difference.  Federal agencies and people elected to office listen to and depend on input from the public. It lets politicians know what is important to their constituents, can encourage them to strengthen or change their position on an issue, or bring something to their attention that they may not have been aware of. Being able to say that we had four THOUSAND people who care about right whales- that’s a lot! That’s four thousand people asking NMFS to do more, and every person is one more voice putting pressure on the federal agency to take action.

Because I have an impatient puppy wanting to play right now, here’s my analogy: if you go to the park and one dog runs up to you with a ball, you might keep walking and ignore the dog. But if ten dogs run up to you asking to play, you might pay more attention!

Sabrina: I know I sure would pay attention if ten dogs came up to me! So you get the federal agecy and elected officials attention, but how does signing a petition help whales?

Colleen: Signing a petition is one of many ways (and usually the most straightforward way!) to participate in the public policy process, and to use your voice to speak up for whales and dolphins. If no one asks for change, then regulations are stuck where they are, and for some whale populations, like North Atlantic right whales, the status quo is leading to their extinction. They need things to change, and we need to speak up and demand that change.

Sharing a petition is also a great way to get your friends and family engaged. You felt connected with the struggles of Derecha and Infinity, and sharing their story may spark an interest in a friend who likes whales but didn’t know they were in trouble.  Sharing petitions can be a good conversation starter and can encourage more people to speak up on issues that matter to them.

Sabrina: That is a really good point! Now that I know how petitions work, I see so many online. I get nervous about signing petitions though…what are some things I should look out for to see if they are legit or not?

Colleen: First, consider the source – is it from a known or trusted organization? Is the ask clear, concise, and meaningful?  Who is the target of the petition? Making sure a petition is direct, clearly described, and has a target is one of the best ways to tell if it will be meaningful or not. For example, if someone shares a petition that just says “stop plastic pollution!” and is targeted to “people in charge” – you may agree with the intent, but the ask (how?) and the target (who?) isn’t clear, so the petition probably won’t make much of a difference.

At WDC, we usually err on the side of too much detail, but our petitions will always have a specific target (NMFS, a state or federal agency, or an elected official) and a clear ask (do these things to protect whales).

Thanks so much to Colleen for answering all of my questions and for helping us all to understand how to better help whales and dolphins! If you have any questions, leave them in the comments below!

Another way to help is by sharing this on social media!

1 Comment

  1. Brie on 04/03/2021 at 7:40 pm

    Thanks for explaining this all so clearly! I have seen so many petitions shared on Facebook which made it hard for me to tell if petitions are a meaningful or productive method of change. I will keep an eye out for petitions being shared from WDC!

Leave a Comment