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Frequently Asked Questions

Here are the answers to some of the questions we get asked most frequently about whales and dolphins in danger. But please do email us at if you can't find the answer to your question here!

What’s the biggest threat that whales and dolphins face?

One of the biggest threats to cetaceans around the world is loss of habitat. However, unfortunately whales, dolphins and porpoises face many threats. These vary for different species and can also depend on whereabouts the animals live. A great many whales and dolphins face the threats listed below: 
* hunting
* captivity
* collisions with ships
* being caught in fishing nets and drowning
* not having enough food
* chemical and noise pollution
* climate change

How are dolphins’ habitats being destroyed?
Humans are mainly responsible. We pollute the rivers and oceans and cause noise and traffic which can harm and disturb cetaceans.

How many whales and dolphins get caught and killed accidentally each year in fishing nets?
Its difficult to know for sure, but it could be 300,000 – 400,000 every year.

Why are noises in the oceans a problem for dolphins?
Dolphins use echolocation (which involves sound) to communicate, navigate and find food. A noisy ocean means they may not be able to understand each other or find their way around.

Are dolphins born in captivity happy there?
Dolphins are still wild animals, even if they were born in captivity and so it is a very unnatural environment for them to live in. Dolphins have been tamed by people, not domesticated like our pets. It is possible to release some whales and dolphins into the wild after rehabilitation.

Isn’t captivity safer for dolphins than life in the wild?
They have evolved over millions of years to live in the ocean; it is their natural habitat. The way to solve issues like hunting and pollution is to tackle the source of these problems, not to take these animals out of the seas. This is why WDCS is here!

Are captive facilities needed for conservation and research?
Captive dolphins live in an artificial environment and follow the same basic routine every day/week rather than the varied daily movements of a free-living animal. Studies of wild whales and dolphins are becoming more and more sophisticated, providing increasingly useful information for the conservation of cetaceans in their natural home.

Aren’t captive facilities educational?
Educational messages take second place to the performances, which are the main feature of dolphinariums. The tricks that dolphins are taught to display are not the natural behaviours you can see in the wild, and do little to increase people’s knowledge of whales and dolphins and their environment.

Dolphins smile, so they must be happy…
Dolphins are born with a smile on their face; they cannot change the shape of their mouths. So they always look happy even when they arent. Similarly, they do not frown when they are upset, distressed or angry.

If dolphins were unhappy wouldn’t they refuse to work or eat?
This is not true. Some dolphins will just get on with their training and shows – what else is there for them to do in these bare and boring tanks?