From: David A Gabel, ENN
Published January 27, 2012 02:24 PM

The World is Still Consuming Dolphins and Other Marine Mammals

Not too long ago, a big problem with the fishing industry was that dolphins were being captured in the large nets used to harvest tuna. They would get mixed in and their meat would be ground up and served with the tuna in the tuna can. When people caught on, they were outraged. Now tuna fish providers offer their tuna cans with labels which say dolphin free. But not everything is so peachy for the dolphin in other parts of the world. According to a new study from the Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) and Okapi Wildlife Associates (Okapi), dolphins and other marine mammals are still being eaten. In fact, since 1990, 114 countries claim to consume one or more of at least 87 species of marine mammals.

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The stunning conclusion came as a result of a three-year study that involved around 900 information sources around the world. The study was conducted using the exhaustive resources of WCS and Okapi, agencies which are stationed in often remote parts of the world to promote conservation efforts.

The study found that there has been an escalation in the hunt for smaller coastal and estuarine cetaceans since 1970. Cetaceans include whales, dolphins, and porpoises. They are usually caught in nets that are meant for fish and other species. However, in impoverished and hungry parts of the world, they are not thrown back.

Whales, dolphins, porpoises, seals, sea lions are all consumed. Polar bears are also included on this list, even though they primarily live on land. The following list includes more obscure species known to be eaten around the world:

Pygmy beaked whale

South Asian river dolphin

Narwhal

Chilean dolphin

Long-finned pilot whale

Burmeister's porpoise

California sea lion

Baikal seal

"Obviously, there is a need for improved monitoring of species such as the Atlantic and Indo-Pacific humpback dolphins and other species," said Dr. Howard Rosenbaum, Director of WCS's Ocean Giants Program. "In more remote areas and a number of countries, a greater immediate need is to understand the motivations behind the consumption of marine mammals and use these insights to develop solutions to protect these iconic species that lead to more effective management and conservation."

This study has been published in the journal, Biological Conservation.

Link to published article: http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0006320711002977

Dolphin image via Shutterstock

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