Mark SimmondsDirector of Science

The International Whaling Commission needs a new vision.


The Sad Story of a 21st Century Whale

December 16, 2021

In early December, the International Whaling Commission celebrated its 75th anniversary and working with several other conservation and welfare organisations, OceanCare hosted an on-line event to mark this occasion and launch a vision for the IWC in the years to come.

I was asked to describe the threats to whales, dolphins and porpoises (cetaceans) in the modern world in a ten-minute slot. This was quite a challenge as there are more than ninety species of cetaceans, which divide up into many discrete populations and all these populations face their own challenges. So, I pondered how to do this for some time and then a photograph came my way that was so terrible and so arresting but also spoke so eloquently to the situation of modern whales in our busy seas, that I thought I could make it the focus of this short overview. I was also blessed with some other beautiful images of wild orcas to show that had recently been taken by a friend off North Norway and so worked these into the presentation too.

You can judge how well or otherwise I did by viewing the video here (I failed on the ten-minute challenge as it is actually about twelve minutes long).

The full 75th event (a little over 1.5 hours) and which includes other speakers, comments from celebrities who support our vision for the IWC, including Dame Jane Goodall, and a lively panel discussion is available here.