Whaling is not so very much a South African
problem, but we felt considering that there still are a few countries whaling on a commercial
basis, that we thought it would be worth a mention on this site. After all it is supposed to
cover all environmental issues.
Whales today, the challenges they face:
Whales have inhabited the earth for millions of years, evolving through many climatic changes. But
humans are changing the climate faster than the whales can adapt. Man is producing more and more
greenhouse gasses which are heating up the earth. Predictions by scientists over the years have
changed, but they all agree that changes have already and will continue to become more severe.
Going hand in hand with the UV radiation as a result of CFC's destroying the atmosphere
the amount of radiation is affecting the marine ecosystem as a whole.
It is unfortunately not only the chemicals in the ozone layer that destroy the ecosystem but also the
tonnes and tonnes of chemicals pumped into the environment which have both direct and indirect
impacts on whales. The whales' fatty layer, which provides vital insulation for whales, also absorbs
pollutants such as organochlorines. Organochlorine in the system results in immunological and
Pollution of a different kind can also negatively affect whales in the form of their hearing. Man-made noise pollution is not only severely debilitating for marine life but can cause changes in
cetacean behavior that drives them away from normal feeding and breeding grounds. It also disrupts
their communication systems. Noise pollution comes mainly from the following sources: shipping
traffic, military use of low frequency active sonar, and oil and gas exploration.
Although all the above effects are indirect, the direct interference by humans is also a very
big problem in the form of overfishing. The world fishing markets are in a crisis and this has
led to the severe decrease of traditional fish stocks. This has led to attempts to blame the whales
for the decrease in fish populations.
Another problem that whales face are the unexplainable strandings and beaching of whales. Most of
the whales that beach themselves or get stranded die, therefore further decreasing whale numbers.