Growing evidence shows thriving populations of whales are essential to a healthy ocean and planet. The benefits they provide – from capturing carbon to enhancing marine productivity – only strengthen the case for protecting them.
Despite the vital role they play in the health of our planet and our lives, whales are facing a barrage of growing threats from humans.
While the global moratorium on commercial whaling in 1986 allowed some populations to recover from the brink of extinction, some have not. Six out of the 13 great whale species globally are now classified as Endangered or Vulnerable – including southern right whales that migrate along the Australian coast.
All around the world, mounting threats from human activities are making migrations between feeding and breeding grounds increasingly dangerous for whales.
Whale superhighways – or blue corridors – are migration routes that allow whales to move between different ocean habitats – areas where they feed, mate, give birth, nurse young, and socialise. Whales rely on these critical habitats and the migration routes that connect them for their survival.
Whales travel these migration routes often along the coast, but also across the open ocean, in and out of international and national waters – some for thousands of kilometres each year. Sadly, these paths often overlap with human activity, endangering whale populations in these areas.
Mapping of global whale superhighways by WWF and partners is helping to identify where migratory routes and key habitat areas overlap with a range of emerging and cumulative impacts - helping inform how we can better protect and manage critical ocean habitats for whales worldwide.