Breaching Whale

Cetacean Society International

Working for Whales Worldwide

Notice from the Tropical Dolphin Research Foundation

Posted on 12 April 2015

The Tropical Dolphin Research Foundation ( is working to complete a documentary on a group of young conservation biologists who are working to save the Ganges river dolphin from extinction. We have finished our trailer (Who Will Save the River Dolphin?) and are now filming in the field in Asia (Field Blog). We wanted to inform the marine mammal community about this upcoming film and to make you aware of our fund raising campaign to help us complete this important documentary (Indegogo Crowd Fund for Documentary).

Court Rules Navy War Games Violate Law
Protecting Whales and Dolphins

U.S. District Court deems that nearly 9.6 million underwater assaults on whales and dolphins were improperly assessed as “negligible”

LOS ANGELES (March 31, 2015) — A federal court today announced that the U.S. Navy’s training and testing activities off the coast of Southern California and Hawaii illegally harm more than 60 whale, dolphin, seal, and sea lion populations. The U.S. District Court, District of Hawaii, found that the National Marine Fisheries Service – the agency charged with protecting marine mammals – violated multiple requirements of the Marine Mammal Protection Act and the Endangered Species Act when agreeing to the Navy’s plan.

“Searching the administrative record’s reams of pages for some explanation as to why the Navy’s activities were authorized by the National Marine Fisheries Service (‘NMFS’), this court feels like the sailor in Samuel Taylor Coleridge’s ‘The Rime of the Ancient Mariner’ who, trapped for days on a ship becalmed in the middle of the ocean, laments, ‘Water, water every where, Nor any drop to drink.’” the Court wrote in its 66-page opinion.

The Court granted summary judgements in favor of nine plaintiffs in a consolidated case brought by the Natural Resources Defense Council, Cetacean Society International, Animal Legal Defense Fund, Pacific Environment and Resources Center, Michael Stocker, Conservation Council for Hawaii, Animal Welfare Institute, Center for Biological Diversity, and Ocean Mammal Institute.

Under its five-year plan for training and testing, the Navy is permitted to harm whales, dolphins, and other marine mammals nearly 9.6 million times while conducting high-intensity sonar exercises and underwater detonations. These harmful impacts include millions of instances of temporary hearing loss and significant disruptions in vital behaviors, such as habitat abandonment, as well as permanent hearing loss, permanent injury and more than 150 deaths.

Ocean noise is one of the biggest threats worldwide to the health and well-being of marine mammals, which rely on sound to ‘see’ their world. Navy sonar activities, shipping noise, and seismic exploration by oil and gas companies have made our oceans noisier in recent decades, resulting in widespread disruption to feeding, communication, mating, and more.

Following is a statement by Zak Smith, attorney with the Natural Resources Defense Council’s Marine Mammal Protection Project, representing plaintiffs:

“Defenseless marine mammals are going deaf and hungry and may die at the hands of our Navy. And the laws we have that are meant to limit such harms have been misused by the government.

“Instead of downplaying the impacts on marine mammals – including endangered blue, fin and humpback whales – the government should be doing more to protect them from these harmful activities.

“The Navy has solutions at its disposal to ensure it limits the harm to these animals during its exercises. It’s time to stop making excuses and embrace those safety measures.”

For more information please contact William Rossiter, CSI's Executive Director for Advocacy, Science & Grants,, 203-770-8615.

Court Update: Importing Wild Beluga Whales for Captivity

Animal Protection and Whale Conservation Groups File Response to Georgia
Aquarium’s Motion Asking Court to Order Agency to Issue Beluga Import Permit

Click here for details. (PDF)


WhaleFest took place on March 14 and 15, 2015, at Brighton Centre, Brighton, UK, presented by the World Cetacean Alliance. (CSI is a founding partner in the World Cetacean Alliance.)

Cetacean Society International's Annual Meeting
on February 23, 2015

Thanks to The Children's Museum, 950 Trout Brook Drive, West Hartford, CT, for hosting CSI's Annual Meeting on February 23, 2015. Thanks also to Harry's Bishops Corner for providing the pizza!

See the Contact page for the list of current CSI Officers and Directors.

Action Alert!
OCEANCARE: Emergency call from the Maldives

Help us to protect the underwater paradise around the Maldives from airguns used in oil exploration – before it is too late!

Please take a minute to help to protect the pristine Maldives from oil and gas exploration by signing this petition. Some places just should not be exploited, and this is one of these places. Your signature is valuable. CSI is a proud supporter of this cause.


Adopt a Whale!

For details see the "Whale Adoption" page above.

Cetacean Society International supports Responsible Whale-Watching Workshop in St Vincent and the Grenadines

Published by CSI Executive Director Bill Rossiter on 23 Oct 2014

International experts in the development and operation of responsible whale watching conducted a three-day workshop in St Vincent and the Grenadines (22-24 October 2014), to provide training to existing and prospective whale-watch operators.

The objectives of the workshop, which included two full days of instruction and a morning at sea, were focused on educating stakeholders on the importance of protecting whales and dolphins from the impact of vessels; increasing the educational and scientific value of whale watching trips for passengers and researchers; and maximising the income potential and community benefits of nature-based tourism.

The agenda includes segments on responsible regulation and passenger safety as well as business aspects such as marketing and tour design.

The trainers from Fundacion Cethus in Argentina bring years of experience in training whale-watch operators in developing countries to the workshop. It is being conducted in cooperation with the National Trust of St Vincent and the Grenadines, with financial support from the Animal Welfare Institute, Cetacean Society International, OceanCare and Whale and Dolphin Conservation.

CSI Intervenes To Support NMFS In Lawsuit Brought By The Georgia Aquarium

Published by CSI Executive Director Bill Rossiter on 19 Feb 2014

 Photo ©2009 L. Hannenman

Cetacean Society International and four other NGOs on January 8, 2014 filed a motion to intervene in defense of the National Marine Fisheries Service's (NMFS) August 2013 decision to deny Georgia Aquarium's request for a permit to import 18 beluga whales from Russia for public display. NMFS' permit denial was based on "best science", specifically that:

  • The agency could not determine that the import, by itself or in combination with other activities, would not have a significant adverse impact on the Russian stock of belugas from which the 18 whales were taken, given the stock's "steady and significant decline over the past two decades" caused in part by the "ongoing live-capture trade since 1989."
  • The import would likely result in the capture of additional belugas from this stock, beyond those covered by the permit, because "issuance of this permit would contribute to the demand to capture belugas from this stock for the purpose of public display worldwide."
  • Five of the beluga whales-estimated to be approximately 1.5 years old at the time of capture-were potentially still nursing and not yet independent at the time of capture.

If approved, the permit would have restarted the imports of wild-caught cetaceans to the U.S, which were stopped through public pressure in 1993. CSI joined the Animal Welfare Institute, Whale and Dolphin Conservation, Whale and Dolphin Conservation North America, and Earth Island Institute in the intervention to strongly support NMFS's determination. Last fall CSI's Bill Rossiter had testified at a NMFS meeting in Washington, DC about the risky plan to transport the belugas described in the Aquarium's Application. Speaking from his 40 years of experience as a professional pilot with the US Air Force, United Airlines and European flying operations, Bill pointed out several flaws likely to cause one or more belugas to be harmed or die from the transport.

For further information please contact

CSI Joins Natural Resources Defense Council In Suit To Limit Injuries From Sonar And Weapons Testing

Published by CSI Staff on 19 Feb 2014

Humpback Whale Underwater

Once again CSI goes to court to try to get the U.S. Navy to stop unnecessary killing and harming of marine life!

Cetacean Society International is a co-plaintiff in a lawsuit filed January 27, 2014, opposing the National Marine Fisheries Service's authorization of the U.S. Navy's test and training exercises in Southern California and Hawaiian waters. Compared to what the Navy thought their actions would do during the previous five-year period, the Navy's new model projects a 1,300% greater marine mammal impact during its 2013-2018 sonar and explosives training activities! 155 cetaceans would die, over 2,000 would suffer permanent injury including hearing loss, and millions of instances of temporary hearing loss or significant disruptions in vital behaviors would occur. The astonishing increase in injury and death is partly due to new weapon systems and operations, and better science, but much is due to the way their computers crunch numbers.

Since CSI entered this war on the side of whales in 1996 the Navy has obstinately maintained course, hiding behind the "national security" shield instead of implementing effective mitigation that would not diminish mission effectiveness. We are proud to be co-plaintiffs led by the Natural Resources Defense Council, here joined by the International Fund for Animal Welfare, Animal Legal Defense Fund, Pacific Environment, and Michael Stocker, a marine bio-acoustics researcher and director of Ocean Conservation Research.

We sue for common-sense measures that would significantly decrease the harm to California and Hawaii's aquatic species, measures which the Navy ignores. The most important of these is to avoid important habitat for vulnerable species, like endangered blue, fin and beaked whales, and migrating Gray whales. Examples include practicable steps to avoid dangerous activities such as night time sonar training and underwater detonations at night, because the Navy relies primarily on seeing cetaceans so as to avoid them, and reducing ship speed at critical times and locations to reduce the risk of vessel collision and death.

For further information please contact

Download a Free Book on the Bottlenose Dolphin in Argentina!

Published by CSI Staff on 15 Oct 2013

The bottlenose dolphins of the Bay,  Discovering the Dolphins of North Patagonia” (Argentina

For our Spanish-speaking visitors and anyone who wants a free, scientifically accurate book on the bottlenose dolphin CSI is very pleased to recommend "Las Toninas de la Bahia, Descubriendo a los Delfines de Patagonia Norte", which freely translates to "The bottlenose dolphins of the Bay, Discovering the Dolphins of North Patagonia" (Argentina)

Written by Els Vermeulen, Hilda Suárez and Alejandro baalbiano, the book is a labor of love by scientists "to increase the awareness around this population and highlight its vulnerability", but the easy to read text also provides a wealth of information about the species worldwide. It also covers other species of whales and dolphins in the region, explains how scientists do the research, provides information on many individuals, behaviors, and issues affecting the dolphins, and includes a catalog of named dolphins.

Believing that "social networking is essential in the increasing awareness of environmental issues", the authors have created a Facebook page, in Spanish and English, where the 3.7MB book can be downloaded for free under the "files" tab, and anyone can join the Facebook Group to comment and stay current on the research.

CSI Founding Partner in World Cetacean Alliance (WCA)

Published by Brian Benito on 13 Aug 2013

CSI is proud to announce that it is a founding partner in the newly formed World Cetacean Alliance (WCA)!  The Alliance, launched on World Oceans Day, consists of 28 partners all pledging to work together to expand our individual organizations influences and reach to help save and protect cetaceans globally.

The WCA has three core deliverables that CSI has been working on for years and will continue too within the alliance:

  1. Map and report on the captivity industry
  2. Map and report on critically endangered cetaceans
  3. Map and report on critical habitats worldwide

Please help CSI in mapping your areas of concerns or global hotspots: In English, in Spanish or in German.  Mapping your concerns will help CSI and the WCA focus on areas with the most critical needs.  A short survey video tutorial can be found on youtube at: YoutTube Survey Video.

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