Both dolphins and whales face some significant threats, which mean that their survival is endangered. As a matter of fact, the maritime ecosystem would change drastically if whales were to die out. After all, they are some of the biggest maritime mammals of them all. In turn, whale conservation programs have been established all over the world. Of course, the goal of these programs is to make sure that this horror scenario does not come about. If you would like, you can also do your part by becoming a whale conservation volunteer. Volunteering in whale conservation not only means that you will be doing good. Instead, there is a lot for you to learn and you will probably grow as a person, too. If you would like to learn more about this kind of voluntary work, we urge you to read on. Below, we have prepared some of the most important facts that you should know if you would like to become a whale conservation volunteer abroad in the future.
Why does whale conservation matter?
Whale conservation programs are very much needed in many parts of the world as whales face a number of threats. These are some of the same threats that dolphins face, too. In particular, entanglement in fishing gear is a huge problem. As more and more parts of the world’s oceans are subject to commercial fishing, this is severely limiting the natural habitat of whales. Moreover, the threat of ship collisions is all too real as well. In the most unfortunate of situations, this can even mean whales dying instead of merely getting injured.
Threats to Whales
Even though commercial whaling is not permitted in most parts of the world today, unregulated hunting and fishing are also putting the worldwide whale population at serious risk. Considering that whales face the following risks, too, your work as a whale conservation volunteer can make all the difference for an entire species.
- Gas and oil development
- Ozone depletion
- Global warming
- Toxic contamination
- Sonar Testing
- Noise pollution (by ships)
Keep in mind that the global whale population is still in recovery to begin with. While illegal whaling still takes place to this day, the situation was much worse about 100 or so years ago. Back then, whales were hunted much more frequently for both eating and making medicine from their various body parts. The so-called commercial whaling era has resulted in many whale species being almost extinct today. Unfortunately, whale-hunting practices are still being exercised regularly in Japan, Norway and the Faroe Island. While some of the locals would probably claim that whale hunting is part of their culture, whale conservation activists have a very different opinion on this matter. Also keep in mind that the above mentioned countries are not the only regions where your help as a whale conservation volunteer is very much needed.
Where can you volunteer in whale conservation?
As a prospective whale conservation volunteer abroad, you will probably be looking for the answer to this question. One thing is for sure. No matter where you will decide to engage in voluntary work in whale conservation, you will definitely be stationed somewhere near the ocean. This means that you will not just get to experience the beauty of the ocean as a volunteer. Instead, you can also spend your free time snorkeling, swimming, sailing and the like after you are done volunteering for the day. Below, you can find a list of potential whale conservation destinations, which you can feel free to choose from:
- South Africa
What will you be doing as a volunteer in whale conservation?
From bowhead whales to orcas, fin whales and humpback whales, each whale conservation program is focusing on different whale species. Depending on where you are volunteering, you thus might get to encounter very different whales. Nevertheless, most whale conservation programs will likely expect you to complete very similar tasks. This could mean assisting researchers as they are tracking the local whale population. In addition, you could also be asked to get involved in various ecotourism activities. For many kinds of conservation efforts, ecotourism is playing an increasingly important role. This is so for at least two reasons.
Whale Conservation Campaigning
First of all, ecotourism is one way of educating people about why whales need saving. The logic behind this is simple. The more people know about the dangers that whales face, the more people will be interested in standing up for this cause or they will not do anything to harm whales at least. Second of all, ecotourism also means money for the respective region. If tourists are specifically visiting a country or town to see whales, then those whales better stay alive. Otherwise, local ecotourism would die out, which would mean financial losses for the local population as well.
Whale Watching and Monitoring
From whale watching with tourists to providing them with background information regarding different kinds of whales, you will likely engage in various educational activities as a whale conservation volunteer, too. This could even mean educating local fisherman so that they can adjust their practices in such a way that they do not pose as great of a threat to the survival of whales. Community outreach or beach cleanup events with local schoolchildren could also be part of your job description as a whale conservation volunteer.
While you will likely get to go on some sort of whale-watching excursion as a whale conservation volunteer abroad, you should know that you will probably be asked to complete a number of office tasks as well. From data entry to helping with fundraising, your whale conservation program will definitely take advantage of whatever skills you posses in this area. As you can see, no two days in whale conservation are the same, wherefore you will not get bored anytime soon. Also keep in mind that most whale conservation programs will have you working from Monday to Friday. If you have to work on the weekend, you will likely get some time off during the week. In turn, there will be plenty of time to enjoy yourself outside of your work as a whale conservation volunteer, too.