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News 22 May 07
Marine life all at sea from climate change threat: WWF
Whales, dolphins and porpoises are facing increasing threats from climate change, as sea temperature changes and food sources such as krill diminish, environmental group WWF said on Tuesday.
The group issued its report, "Whales in hot water?" together with the Whale and Dolphin Conservation Society (WDCS), ahead of the 59th meeting of the International Whaling Commission in Anchorage, Alaska from May 28-31.
Whales, dolphins and porpoises -- collectively known as cetaceans -- are at risk from changing temperatures and freshening of seawater due to melting ice and increased rainfalls, it said.
A rise in sea levels, loss of icy polar habitats and the decline of krill populations in key areas are all likely to have an adverse impact on the species, the WWF warned.
"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," said Mark Simmonds, international science director at the WDCS.
Cetaceans are already facing numerous non-climate related threats, such as chemical and noise pollution, commercial fishing, naval activities and the introduction of non-native species to their waters, the report noted.
There is also the problem of "bycatch," when the creatures get entangled in fishing nets. This alone is thought to be responsible for the deaths of at least 300,000 cetaceans every year.
"Climate change induced impacts are likely to compound and exacerbate these threats by reducing resilience and adaptive capacity because of resource deployment to competing needs," the report said.
"In many cases, it will be impossible to fully mitigate the negative impacts of climate change; therefore increased efforts must be made to reduce all other human-induced threats," it added.
The report urged the IWC and the governments of its member states to do all they can to reduce global warming, and to provide adequate and appropriate space for cetaceans to live and breed.
"It is now essential that the IWC revisit this issue (of climate change) in a concrete and comprehensive fashion," it concluded.
Disturbed, hungry and lost – climate change impacts on whales on the WWF website
Related articles on Dolphins and other cetaceans
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