Help Save Aquatic Animals
Over 70 percent of the surface of our world is covered by oceans. Oceans play a critical role in sustaining biodiversity and regulating climate and weather.
Coral reefs, rainforest of the sea, are one of nature's most remarkable creations - teaming with thousands of unique and valuable plants and animals. More than one-quarter of all marine species depend on coral reefs for their survival. Humans depend on the survival of coral reefs too. Coral reefs provide a natural wave barrier which protects beaches and coastlines from storms and floods.
Viewing and interacting with marine mammals in the wild attracts sufficient numbers of people that a small industry has grown from it. Well intentioned or not, this industry and the public it serves frequently do not take into account the well-being of the animals they view. Marine mammal specialists and advocates have sufficient cause to be concerned.
- Share your knowledge with others. Encourage friends and family not to patronize boat operators and resorts that promote marine mammal encounter programs.
- Ask the National Marine Fisheries Service to provide increased manpower and money to enforce the federal regulations prohibiting feeding and harassment of marine mammals. Write to: National Marine Fisheries Service, Office of Protected Resources; 1315 East-West Highway, 13th Floor; Silver Spring, MD, 20910.
- To report a violation of the Marine Mammal Protection Act, call: NOAA Fisheries Enforcement Hot Line: 1-800-853-1964.
- Remain at least 100 yards from marine mammals. Binoculars will ensure that you view at a safe distance. If a whale approaches within 100 yards of your vessel, put your engine in neutral and allow the whale to pass.
- Because many watchers on many vessels have a cumulative effect, limit your observing time to one hour. Avoid approaching the animals when another vessel is near.
- Whales should not be encircled or trapped between boats, or boat and shore.
- Offering food, discarded fish, or fish waste is prohibited.
- Do not touch or swim with marine mammals. Never attempt to herd, chase, or separate groups of marine mammals or females from their young.
- If your engine is not running, whales may not recognize your location. To avoid collisions, make noise, such as tapping the side of the boat.
- Do not handle pups. "Hauled out" seal or sea lion pups may appear abandoned when the mother is feeding. Leave them alone.
- When viewing hauled out seals or sea lions, try not to let them see, smell, or hear you.
- Do not patronize any form of entertainment that uses animals. Tell your friends and family to boycott all aquariums that hold captive marine mammals for entertainment. Support only those aquariums involved solely in the rehabilitation and release of marine mammals, or the care of animals that cannot be released.
- Support legislation to protect captive and wild marine mammals. If you witness a wild marine mammal being harassed or poached, contact the National Marine Fisheries Service. The national toll-free phone number for the enforcement division is 1-800-853-1964.
- If you witness a captive marine mammal being neglected or mistreated at a marine park, contact the national headquarters of the U.S. Department of Agriculture:
The majority of the world's fisheries are in a state of collapse. Too many boats are chasing too few fish. Many of the fish species currently in decline serve as important food sources for sea animals who, unlike humans, have no other food choices. In the Bering Sea, the effects of overfishing on marine animals are obvious. Fur-seal populations have not increased despite a long-standing ban on commercial hunting. The number of Steller's sea lions, which feed mostly on pollack (the number one ingredient in frozen fish sticks and served by fast food chains), has plunged 80% since the 1970s, and seabirds such as the red-legged kittiwake are also in trouble.
- Eliminate or decrease fish from your diet.
- Support legislation that sets strict standards for commercial fishing.
- Urge National Parks, National Marine Sanctuaries and National Wildlife Refuges to prohibit commercial and recreational fishing within their boundaries.
- If you witness a marine mammal being harassed by fishermen or injured by fishing gear, contact the National Marine Fisheries Service. The toll-free, national phone number for the enforcement division is 1-800-853-1964.
- If you witness any other wild animals (ducks, geese, raccoons, etc.) being harassed by fishermen or injured by fishing gear, call your state Fish and Wildlife or Fish and "Game" department listed in the Government section of your local phone book.
- When visiting a beach, lake or river, pick up any discarded fishing gear that you see and dispose of it properly.
Each year thousands of seals are killed in Canada. The seals suffer painful and lingering deaths. The weapon used is a club, the brutal hakapik. Sometimes the seals are skinned alive. Sealers often use sharpened steel hooks to drag the creatures on board their vessels. Seal-clubbing is justified by the Canadian government because its victims are adversely affecting the profits of the Newfoundland fishing industry.
- 79% of the sealers did not check to see if an animal was dead before skinning it.
- In 40% of the kills, a sealer had to strike the seal a second time, presumably because it was still conscious after the first blow or shot.
- Up to 42% of the seals they examined were likely skinned alive.
Whales are hunted for their meat and other body parts. The oil from their bodies has been used to make lipstick, shoe polish and margarine. The practice of hunting whales began in the 9th century when Spain undertook the first organized hunt. By the 20th century, the Netherlands, Denmark, Britain, France, Germany, Norway, Japan and the United States had begun to kill large numbers of whales.
The conservation and recovery of sea turtles requires multi-lateral cooperation and agreements to ensure the survival of these highly migratory animals. NOAA Fisheries has a broad national and international program for the conservation and recovery of marine turtles. The Office of Protected Resources works closely with 2 international environmental agreements that deal exclusively with sea turtle conservation.