Featured Image Credit: Dolphin Quest
According to a newly released study by the United Nations, one million animal species are in danger of becoming extinct. Their report on biodiversity revealed that extinction is looming over countless species of plants and animals, including 1/3 of all marine mammal, shark, and fish species.
“The overwhelming evidence of the IPBES Global Assessment, from a wide range of different fields of knowledge, presents an ominous picture,” said IPBES Chair, Sir Robert Watson. “The health of ecosystems on which we and all other species depend is deteriorating more rapidly than ever. We are eroding the very foundations of our economies, livelihoods, food security, health, and quality of life worldwide,” as stated in the report.
Alarmingly, this is the highest number we’ve ever had in human history. Dolphins, whales, and many other species that live in modern zoos are thriving, while marine mammals in the wild are suffering and dying every single day at the hands of human activities, malnutrition, climate change, pollution, ship strikes, and abandoned fishing gear entanglement.
Shortly after the report came out, eight scientists from Duke University and The University of Michigan headed to Dolphin Quest Oahu to conduct a groundbreaking study that will strive to preserve and protect dolphin species in the wild. They plan to do so by developing conservation tools to more accurately assess the impacts of natural and human disturbance on marine mammals in the wild, according to a press release from Dolphin Quest.
“One of the 8 projects that we are collaborating with Dolphin Quest on this month is developing a tool to estimate the calories dolphins burn while evading boats,” says Austin Allen, Duke University Ph.D. candidate. “In June, we will be able to apply the techniques we are developing at Dolphin Quest to a wild dolphin population off the coast of Florida. In the future, this technology could be used to quantify the energetic impacts of boats on Hawaiian spinner dolphins.”
By figuring out how many calories dolphins burn at different swimming speeds, scientists will be able to estimate how many calories dolphins expend when disturbed by boats and how this affects population level parameters such as survival and reproduction rates. Due to decreasing fish populations, which is making it harder for wild dolphins to find a sufficient meal, the study of these energetic expenditures is increasingly important.
To read more about Dolphin Quest’s study, read the full press release here.
For a list of Dolphin Quest’s current scientific studies, click here.