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Dolphins Whales and Porpoises: Cetacea - Cetaceans And People

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People have been fascinated with cetaceans from the earliest times. These animals have figured in stories and mythology in many countries. Perhaps the best known example is the biblical story of Jonah being swallowed by a whale.

Whales have been hunted for their oil, meat, baleen, and bones for hundreds of years. As sailing and hunting technologies improved, increasing pressure was put on some whale species. Whaling, whale hunting, reached its peak in 1847 when about 700 American ships, along with ships from many other nations, took part in whale hunts. In 1935, the United States and several European countries entered into the first international agreement to protect certain species of whales. Since then, there have been other international agreements, all of which have loopholes that allow at least some whale hunting to continue. In 1972, the United States passed the Marine Mammal Protection Act. This legislation extended protection to all cetaceans as well as other marine mammals such as seals, sea lions, and sea otters. Today, whale hunting, along with regulation of other types of fishing, continues to be a source of international tension.

Other pressures on cetaceans include being trapped and exhibited, put on display, for entertainment. Many tourist destinations offer visitors the opportunity to swim with dolphins in confined areas, and businesses trap wild dolphins for this purpose. In addition, the United States Navy trains dolphins to retrieve potentially dangerous materials from under water.

Dolphins Whales and Porpoises: Cetacea - Conservation Status [next] [back] Dolphins Whales and Porpoises: Cetacea - Behavior And Reproduction

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