With a mission to explore, enable, and inspire positive change for threatened marine wildlife, MarAlliance has dedicated their time, resources, and lives to support a thriving marine wildlife. They are working throughout the world’s tropical seas and helping to get people educated and inspired towards meaningful conservation action.
There are 36 dolphin species found all over the planet. Most are marine and live in the ocean or along coastlines, but there are also a few species that inhabit freshwater streams and rivers such as the South Asian river dolphin and the Amazon river dolphin.
The largest species of dolphin is the orca, also known as a killer whale, which can grow to be over 30 feet long. The smallest species is the Maui dolphin which only grows to around five feet long. They are also one of the rarest dolphins, with it being estimated that there might be less than 100 of them in existence today.
Dolphins feed primarily on fish and squid. They are able to hunt and track their prey using echolocation, a built-in sonar that bounces sound waves off prey and reveals information like its location, size, and shape. Dolphins are also extremely social mammals that are able to communicate with one another using different squeaks, whistles, and clicks.
Bottlenose dolphins are one of the few species, along with apes and humans, that have the ability to recognize themselves in a mirror. Dolphins are also among the few animals that have been documented using tools. In Shark Bay in Western Australia, dolphins fit marine sponges over their beaks to protect them from sharp, harmful rocks as they forage for fish.
MarAlliance - Explore, Enable, Inspire
One of our favorite conservation organizations that we have been able to partner with is MarAlliance. While they do not technically work with dolphins specifically, they do study and help a ton of marine species and ecosystems. If we have learned anything it is that the entire ocean is extremely connected, so helping one animal means you are helping them all.
MarAlliance works all over the world using a variety of techniques including education, surveys, studying and working with fisheries. They also partner with other organizations to ensure they are having the widest, and most successful and effective results. Their goal is to explore, enable, and inspire positive change for threatened marine wildlife, their critical habitats and dependent human communities.
One of the ways they do this is by conducting surveys on a regular basis. You can’t really see if your work and efforts are actually having a positive impact if you don’t have a starting point to base your numbers off of. That is why creating a baseline survey, or a count of what is observed at a set of representative places at particular points of time, is one of their projects.
The baseline they have and are researching serves as a reference point from which they can measure changes over time and across different regions, including inside and outside of protected areas, and/or before or after a specific event, such as the implementation of a protected area or new regulations. By focusing on “Big Fish” that often serve as sentinels of ecosystem change, they have been able to identify where overfishing may be upsetting the delicate balance of the tropical ecosystem. They then use their findings to help inform managers and shape conservation strategies so that these species continue to thrive, as do the human populations that depend on them.
Another huge reason we love the work MarAlliance does, is that they also believe that our children are the future stewards of nature. By teaching them to want to love, respect, and protect wildlife, we are helping to instill habits that will be passed down and help create a better place for all creatures. MarAlliance is doing this through their Children of the Sea program where they introduce local children to sharks and rays through classroom and field experiences to help them to understand the animal’s importance for the ecosystem, while also addressing fears they might have of sharks.
They also work to create marine wildlife ambassadors through a variety of public events that encourage support for the protection of sharks, rays and other marine wildlife and their critical habitats. They have been able to reach over 30,000 people in Belize nationwide and many more globally by bringing information, educational materials, and actual scientific equipment out into the community
For centuries, people have hunted dolphins for their meat and blubber. Today, their main threat comes from being caught accidentally in commercial fishing nets. Dolphins must rise regularly to the surface to breathe, and if there are fishing nets blocking their access, they can become entangled and drown. In addition to hunting and entanglement in fishing gear, freshwater dolphins face the additional threat of dams fragmenting and degrading habitat.
Underwater noise pollution is also a serious threat to dolphins. Noise pollution from naval activity, the oil and gas industry, seismic surveys and underwater construction can stress and injure cetaceans. It also severely interferes with their ability to communicate, reproduce, navigate and find prey, sometimes even proving fatal.
Furthermore, marine heatwaves, also caused by climate change, appear to have a negative effect on dolphins' reproductive rates and ability to survive.
What You Can Do To Help
There are tons of ways you can get involved to help not only dolphins, but all marine wildlife.
Use phosphate free laundry detergent and dish soaps. - Phosphates carry into waste systems and are hard to break down by ordinary wastewater processing systems. As they carry into streams, lakes and rivers, they increase algae growth and subsequently decrease the oxygen that is needed for healthy aquatic life, and contribute to the pollution of water bodies. Click here for Spruce’s 8 Best Clean Laundry Detergents.
Donate to MarAlliance. - As a registered nonprofit organization, MarAlliance relies on donations to allow them to continue to do the amazing work and research they do. Any donation, no matter how big or small, can make a difference. Donate here.
Shop using AmazonSmile. - You can give back without spending more! If you shop on Amazon, choose to support MarAlliance through AmazonSmile. All you have to do is go to smile.amazon.com, or activate it on your app, and they will donate 0.5% of your eligible purchases to the charitable organization of your choice.
Be an ocean-minded pet owner - Always responsibly dispose of your pet’s waste. Never flush cat litter and pick up your pets poop outside. When owners neglect to pick up after their animals, pet waste can wash into storm drains, where it becomes a pollutant in drains and waterways, eventually ending up in the ocean. Both on land and in water, the waste left by our pets can spread harmful diseases through bacteria and parasites.
Let us know how what you learned, and how you are going to help make a difference in the comments below. Also be sure to join our Wildlife Guardians Facebook Group to be a part of a community wanting to share ideas and learn more about how we can make our planet a better place where all things can thrive.