Megafauna hotspots: the missing link in marine protection

New report highlights the need to protect important places for whales, dolphins, porpoises and basking sharks

Save Our Ocean Giants – the protected areas we need for whales, dolphins, porpoises and basking sharks explains why The Wildlife Trusts want to see these hotspots (special areas on which these megafauna depend) and species protected by law.

The Wildlife Trusts - Save Our Ocean Giants Report

Save Our Ocean Giants

Download English version

Welsh version

Cewri’r cefnforoedd – cyfle i’w hachub

Llwytho i lawr y fersiwn Gymraeg

Common dolphin in Cardigan Bay

Common dolphin (Delphinus delphis)

Harbour porpoise (Phocoena phocoena)

Harbour porpoise (Phocoena phocoena)

The marine ‘megafauna’ - whales, dolphins, porpoises and basking sharks 
that are regularly found around our coast are all at risk from damaging activities and some species are in decline. Currently there are no areas of English waters protected specifically for them, and only one specifically designated for them in Wales. We think its time that changed.
The Wildlife Trusts are proposing four sites in Wales. Amendments to three existing Special Areas of Conservation, which should afford additional megafauna species protection and the designation of one new site, specifically for harbour porpoises. These are the places where these charismatic animals gather to feed, breed and socialise, and are worth protecting.

Proposed marine megafauna hotspot maps

Sites in Wales proposed by The Wildlife Trusts

The ‘megafauna hotspots’ The Wildlife Trusts want to see protected in Welsh waters are:

  1. North and west coasts of Anglesey – additional protection of harbour porpoises
  2. Pen Llyn a’r Sarnau Special Area of Conservation (SAC) – additional protection of harbour porpoises and rissos dolphins
  3. Cardigan Bay Special Area of Conservation (SAC) – additional protection of harbour porpoises
  4. Pembrokeshire Marine Special Area of Conservation (SAC) – additional protection of harbour porpoises

The areas marked on the map are the megafauna hotspots that The Wildlife Trusts in Wales would like to see protected. Some of these places already have designations as Special Areas of Conservation (SAC) but unfortunately only one site has marine megafauna (bottlenose dolphins in Cardigan Bay) listed as ‘primary features’ to be protected within them. This is why we are calling for either new conservation areas, or for these species to be recognised and protected within existing designated areas. For a more detailed map, please see the full technical report Megafauna hotspots: the missing link in our network of Marine Protected Areas which will be available at The Wildlife Trusts

Sarah Kessell, Chief Executive of the Wildlife Trust of South and West Wales, said:

"Continued monitoring of the occurrence of these enigmatic species is vital in order to increase our knowledge of how these species use the marine environment as well as to ensure the marine environment is healthy and functioning; species such as bottlenose dolphins have previously been described as sentinels of the health of the coastal marine ecosystems.

We all need to play an active role in minimising threats to these species as well as conserving; protecting, understanding and valuing marine habitats and species, ensuring future generations are able to enjoy our Living Seas.”

Find out how you can support our Living Seas work

The Wildlife Trusts are urging the public to sign an e-action which calls on the Welsh Government to take action to protect these species around our Welsh shores and secure a brighter future for them. Please see The Wildlife Trusts for more information.

Harbour porpoise

Harbour porpoise (Phocoena phocoena)

Common dolphin

Common dolphin (Delphinus delphis)

Bottlenose dolphin

Bottlenose dolphins (Tursiops truncatus)

Bottlenose dolphin

Bottlenose dolphin (Tursiops truncatus) are protected as primary features of the Cardigan Bay SAC and as qualifying features, but not primary reasons for site selection of the Pen Llyn a'r Sarnau SAC