Marine mammals are some of the most notable figureheads of the marine community. Marine mammals are facing challenges posed by human activities, including, marine noise, habitat destruction, pollution, shipping traffic, and harmful fishing practices. Many species of marine mammal are now facing threats of extinction, and with so many unanswered questions about this group of animals, it is hard to come up with solutions. This initiative aims to conserve and protect the marine mammals of the world and help us understand them even more.
Marine mammals—such as whales, porpoises, seals and sea lions—have long been considered some of the most spectacular and majestic megafauna on earth. For generations, they have captured the attention and imagination of peoples and cultures all over the world.
Despite their beauty and the awe they inspire, about 25% of marine mammal species are currently threatened with extinction, largely due to the direct and indirect impacts of human activities.
Hundreds of years of aggressive hunting, combined with habitat destruction, marine noise, chemical pollution, harmful fishing practices, and increased shipping traffic have reduced populations to just a fraction of their original numbers. Several species are facing imminent extinction and because some marine mammals are at the top of the food chain, protecting them is crucial in keeping the marine ecosystem balanced. Protecting marine mammals requires global action, especially because these animals live throughout the world and can migrate very large distances annually.
Our Marine Mammal Initiative provides grants to projects focusing on a variety of research and conservation initiatives, such as new technologies that can help warn whales of incoming ships, reducing the number of fatal collisions. There are substantial scientific research questions still to be answered for many species, such as migration patterns, breeding habits, and the bioaccumulation of toxins. Studies such as these can help us make better decisions about shipping routes, sites for new infrastructure projects, and the selection of marine reserves, all of which can give marine mammal populations a better chance of survival.