Tangled Up in Deep Blue
Each day, nearly 1,000 whales, dolphins, and porpoises are sent to an untimely death after they get tangled up in nets and other fishing equipment, according to a new study conducted by American and Scottish scientists and released by the World Wildlife Fund. These accidental captures may be the biggest threat to the sea mammals’ survival, more deadly than pollution and collisions with ships. “Several species will be lost in the next few decades if nothing is done,” warned the study’s lead author, Andy Read of Duke University Marine Laboratory in Beaufort, N.C. The study’s release was timed to coincide with the International Whaling Commission’s annual meeting, which got underway today in Berlin and threatens to be highly contentious. Pro-whaling nations — namely Iceland, Japan, and Norway — want the IWC to loosen whaling restrictions, while 18 anti-whaling nations — including Australia, Britain, Germany, and the U.S. — are pushing for the adoption of the so-called Berlin Initiative, which would give the IWC a stronger conservation role.