Project aims

Mission statement

Whale Wise aims to protect marine mammals and all marine life from the negative impacts of anthropogenic activity through evidence-based conservation practices. In this way, we aim to promote Ocean Harmony.

By assessing the impact of human activity on marine life, we will guide conservation and management plans to maximise their efficacy. Furthermore, we will share our results with the general public to incite positive behavioural change towards minimising personal impact on the marine environment. Finally, we will plan and discuss each stage of our research with local communities and relevant local businesses in the study area in order to ensure compliance with realistic conservation initiatives.

Aims and objectives

Aim 1: Conduct scientific research to assess the impact of anthropogenic activity on marine mammals.     

Objective 1: Deduce the short-term behavioural and physiological response of marine mammals (particularly cetaceans) to human-derived changes in the marine environment.

Objective 2: Assess the impact of such response on the immediate welfare of individual animals.

Objective 3: Model the impact of short-term responses on the long-term health and status of populations.

Objective 4: Share the results of primary research with the scientific community through published, peer-reviewed articles and conference presentations.

Aim 2: Implement local and regional evidence-based conservation initiatives to minimise the negative impacts of human activity on marine mammals.

Objective 1: Incorporate the results of our impact assessments into a conservation or management plan, designed to reverse negative impacts of human activity on cetacean welfare, health and population trends.

Objective 2: Work with local communities and businesses to design conservation initiatives, to ensure that such initiatives work for locals and to increase compliance rates.

Objective 3: Campaign for the inclusion of conservation initiatives into local, regional and national legislation.

Aim 3: Engage the wider public with our research methods, final results and marine conservation generally to promote societal behavioural change towards marine conservation.

Objective 1: Regularly update a website displaying information about our mission, current work and findings.

Objective 2: Maintain a blog to share: our stories from fieldwork, data analysis and our general lives as researchers; our opinions on current marine conservation issues.

Objectives 3: Regularly update social media pages for Whale Wise, sharing research stories and marine conservation news.

Objective 4: Produce talks and presentations to engage the scientific community and general public face-to-face.

Project-specific goals

Whale Watching, north Iceland

Aim: Assess and mitigate potential negative impacts of the whale watching industry in north Iceland on cetacean populations, whilst maintaining its economic and social benefits for local communities.

Goal 1: Assess the short-term behavioural and physiological response of humpback whale (Megaptera novaeangliae) and blue whales (Balaenoptera musculus) to vessel-based whale watching encounters.

Data collection: 600 hours of behavioural observation; 130 samples of exhaled breath (blow); body condition measurements for 50 individual whales.

Goal 2: Model the effect of short-term responses on the long-term welfare, health and population trends of humpback and blue whales.

Goal 3: Predict future regional shifts in humpback and blue whale distribution in response to climate-induced oceanographic changes.

Goal 4: Incorporate the results of the whale watching impact assessment and climate change modelling into a final conservation plan, in order to: minimise the potential impact of whale watching on cetacean populations; continue to allow profitable, high-quality encounters; and allow a sustainable whale watching industry to prepare for the future.

Goal 5: Work with local communities at each project stage, in order to develop a plan that may reasonably be followed.