The list of marine mammals killed for human consumption includes obscure species such as the pygmy beaked whale, South Asian river dolphin, narwhal, Chilean dolphin, long-finned pilot whale, and Burmeister's porpoise. Seals and sea lions are on the list as well, including species such as the California sea lion and lesser known species such as the Baikal seal. The polar bear (a bear that is considered a marine mammal) also makes the list. Three species of manatee and its close relative the dugong, considered a delicacy in some parts of the world, are also widespread targets of human consumption.
Overall, the historical review reveals an escalation in the exploitation of smaller cetaceans, particularly coastal and estuarine species since 1970, often caught accidentally as "bycatch" in nets meant for fish and other species. Once caught, however, small cetaceans are increasingly utilized as food in areas of food insecurity and/or poverty, what the authors call "fishing up the food chain."
"Obviously, there is a need for improved monitoring of species such as Atlantic and Indo-Pacific humpback dolphins and other species," said Dr. Howard Rosenbaum, Director of WCS's Ocean Giants Program. "In more remote areas and a number of countries, a greater immediate need is to understand the motivations behind the consumption of marine mammals and use these insights to develop solutions to protect these iconic species that lead to more effective management and conservation."
In addition to this global review, Wildlife Conservation Society scientists work in remote countries around the world to assess and actively address the threat to dolphin populations with localized, applied conservation efforts. WCS's Ocean Giants Program works in a number of sea
|Contact: John Delaney|
Wildlife Conservation Society