I am not embarrassed to admit that I'm a total whale girl. Dolphins, orcas, humpbacks, you name it. Honestly, I'm shocked I don't already have one of those classic "save the whales" screen tees (I should really just get one). I always thought whales were cool, but my obsession started after seeing the 2013 documentary Blackfish, which focuses on the emotional intelligence of orcas in particular and highlights the ways in which they suffer when separated from their families and held in captivity. I was moved by the beauty, personality, and mental/emotional capacity of these amazing animals. Whales are extraordinarily emotionally intelligent, have complex social lives and structures, and form deep bonds with their family members. Weirdly enough, I even had a dream last night that I was at the beach, watching a pod of wild orcas poke their heads and dorsal fins up above the water. Told ya I was a whale girl.
Whales and other marine mammals are facing some serious plights in today's world, though. The high levels of toxins and pollutants in our oceans have a majorly negative impact on the health and well-being of these animals and the delicate habitats in which they live. Many whales wash ashore dead, killed by starvation and other issues that result from having bellies full of human trash and single-use plastics. These magnificent animals (some of which are now endangered) also face the threat of being killed by hunters, or captured and kept in captivity for entertainment purposes, where their complex needs are unable to be met.
It's Earth month, and if ocean conservation and helping whales is your issue of choice, there are lots of wonderful organizations dedicated to saving the whales that you can support to help make a difference. Check out the following selection of groups that are doing great work for our marine mammal friends, and could use your support.
Sea Shepherd Conservation Society
Sea Shepherd is truly changing the game for whales and other marine mammals. Their mission is "to end the destruction of habitat and slaughter of wildlife in the world’s oceans in order to conserve and protect ecosystems and species." They use direct-action tactics to expose illegal behavior that's threatening marine life and protect the ocean. Find out how to support Sea Shepherd here.
Save The Whales
The name says it all! Save The Whales' mission is simple: "[T]o preserve and protect the ocean and its inhabitants." This org focuses their efforts on education and teaching youth about vital issues that affect the ocean and the delicate marine life which resides in it. You can make a donation to help fund their school education and outreach programs, and find out other ways to make a difference for whales.
Ric O' Barry's Dolphin Project
Dolphin Project is a nonprofit run by Ric O' Barry, a former animal trainer turned marine mammal activist. The group's mission is "to end dolphin exploitation and slaughter, as dolphins are routinely captured, harassed, slaughtered and sold into captivity around the world – all in the name of profit." While this org is focused on dolphins, many of their efforts incorporate advocacy for whales on the whole. You can help support Dolphin Project here.
Oceanic Preservation Society
If you care about whales and the ocean in general, show some gratitude for the Oceanic Preservation Society. "We expose complex, global environmental issues and promote advocacy through the use of film, photography, social media, and collaboration," stated the organization's website. This group is behind the Oscar-winning documentary The Cove, which zooms in on the dolphin slaughter in Japan and the ecological disasters that are affecting the well-being of marine mammals. Here's more info on how to donate to Oceanic Preservation Society to help support their work.
American Cetacean Society
Apparently known for being "the first whale, dolphin, and porpoise conservation group in the world," the American Cetacean Society runs solely on volunteers, so they're a solid group to offer some support to. Their mission is to "protect whales, dolphins, porpoises, and their habitats through public education, research grants, and conservation actions." They work to help cetaceans by protecting the delicate ecosystems in which they live, and by advocating and educating the public. Find out how to support the American Cetacean Society here.