• Outdoors Outdoors

Island makes conservation history with world's first sperm whale reserve: 'It's our responsibility to be good stewards'

"The reserve will protect the whales that have lived here far longer than humans."

"The reserve will protect the whales that have lived here far longer than humans."

Photo Credit: iStock

In an exciting move that's good for marine life and our planet, the island nation of Dominica has established the world's first sperm whale reserve, according to one earth.

Located off the country's west coast, this groundbreaking protected area will safeguard these majestic creatures while fighting the effects of carbon and methane pollution, which include extreme weather events and rising oceanic temperatures.

The roughly 200 sperm whales that call Dominica's waters home are more than just incredible animals — they're also powerful allies in pulling carbon from our atmosphere. 

When sperm whales come to the surface after diving hundreds of meters to hunt squid, they release nutrient-rich feces that fertilize phytoplankton blooms. Like tiny marine plants, phytoplankton absorb CO2 from the water. When they die, they sink to the seafloor, locking that carbon away, per the NOAA.

Thanks to this fascinating "poop loop," scientists estimate that the sperm whales in Dominica's reserve could sequester over 4,200 metric tons of carbon per year. That's the amount 18,000 acres of American forests sequesters.

By protecting these whales, Dominica is harnessing a clever natural solution to the effects of dirty carbon emissions. The reserve also promises to maintain the health of marine ecosystems that local fisheries rely on, ensuring food security and robust economic opportunities for the people of Dominica.

Dominica's sperm whales face mounting threats like ship strikes, entanglement in fishing gear, plastic ingestion, and noise pollution. Research suggests their numbers could plummet by 2030 without increased protections.

But this new reserve, while covering just 3% of the country's waters, will restrict shipping to designated channels to prevent collisions and limit destructive underwater noise. Fishing will also be regulated to stop whales from getting ensnared in gear. It's a big step forward for these vulnerable ocean giants.

"The reserve will protect the whales that have lived here far longer than humans," says Dominica's Prime Minister, Roosevelt Skerrit. "It's our responsibility to be good stewards and ensure they continue keeping our waters and climate healthy."

Excitingly, Dominica's initiative proves that marine conservation and economic growth can go hand-in-hand, with well-managed whale-watching predicted to generate new revenue. It sets an inspiring example for us all — what's good for whales is also good for our shared home.

Join our free newsletter for cool news and cool tips that make it easy to help yourself while helping the planet.

Cool Divider