The Eastern coastline around Norfolk, has numbers of harbour porpoises, photo by Niki Clear 1/3
Basking shark, photo by JP Trenque 2/3
Common dolphins, photo by Caroline Weir 3/3

Megafauna hotspots - the missing link in marine protection


Tuesday 04 November, 2014


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

Today a new report identifies 17 important ‘megafauna hotspots’ around our shores for the first time and highlights the need to protect them. It includes the Eastern coastline around Norfolk, because of its number of harbour porpoises.

Save Our Ocean Giants: the protected areas we need for dolphins, whales and basking sharks explains why The Wildlife Trusts want to see these newly identified hotspots – special areas on which  the UK’s 29 different species of whales, dolphins and basking sharks most depend – protected by law.

Chief Executive of Norfolk Wildlife Trust, Brendan Joyce said:
“After many years of campaigning by The Wildlife Trusts and others, the UK government has finally begun protecting areas at sea so that marine wildlife and habitats can recover from decades of damage, decline and over-exploitation.

“It is long overdue but these new Marine Protected Areas (MPA s) only protect habitats and wildlife on the seabed. It is a different story for our marine ‘megafauna’ – the 29 species of whales, dolphins and porpoises, and the basking sharks – regularly found around our coast including here in Norfolk. All are at risk from damaging activities and some species are in decline.

“We are proposing 17 areas around England and Wales, which should become protected areas especially for whales, basking sharks and dolphins. These are the places where these charismatic animals gather to feed, breed and socialise, and are worth protecting.”

Observations at Eastern coastal sites such as Cromer, Spurn Head, and Bempton/ Flamborough Head show numbers of harbour porpoises peaking at the start of the breeding season (April – May), with newborns regularly observed. The Eastern Coastline has harbour porpoises all year round, with highest numbers during calving in spring and early summer. The Wildlife Trusts recommend that the area of Eastern coastline, including Silver Pit, is investigated further as an area of search.

Joan Edwards, The Wildlife Trusts’ Head of Living Seas, said:  
“Our marine megafauna are still under threat. Many are suffering from the impacts of fishing, whether direct or indirect, increased boat traffic, marine developments and the more persistent effects of pollution - many substances bioaccummulate and affect generations of animals and overall population health. Not all of these impacts can be mitigated by spatial protection measures alone but, by designating areas of the sea which are known hotspots, we can provide safe havens for these species and some impacts can be limited or removed altogether.”

NWT and the other Wildlife Trusts in the UK are urging the public to sign an e-action which calls on the Government to protect the 17 megafauna hotspots around our shores to secure a brighter future for dolphins, whales and basking sharks. Some of these 17 places already have designations – whether as Marine Conservation Zones, Special Areas of Conservation and more – but unfortunately whales, dolphins and basking sharks are not listed as ‘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.


What you can do to help

Support our campaign for protecting UK waters where whales, sharks and dolphins live.

1. Sign our e-petition
It’s time to start protecting areas at sea for whales, dolphins and basking sharks. Add your name and next year we’ll present your signatures to Government. wtru.st/act4giants

2. Share our campaign
Help raise awareness. Use #act4giants, #oceangiants and our link wtru.st/act4giants

3. Read the full report
Download the full megafauna hotspots technical report wildlifetrusts.org/oceangiants
Share this

Top news stories

2019-07-17 The Emperor Returns The Emperor Returns
Wednesday 17 July, 2019
Once extinct butterfly confirmed in Norfolk wood Experts confirm the purple emperor butterfly has returned to Norfol...
2019-07-16 Grave concerns as Norwich West Grave concerns as Norwich Western Link route approved
Tuesday 16 July, 2019
On Monday 15 July 2019 Norfolk County Council approved option C as its preferred route for the NDR Western Link. The ...
2019-07-13 Funding for Foxley thanks to B Funding for Foxley thanks to Bags of Help
Saturday 13 July, 2019
Norfolk Wildlife Trust has been awarded a cash boost of £4,000 from the Tesco Bags of Help initiative to improv...
2019-07-10 First Pensthorpe Bird and Wild First Pensthorpe Bird and Wildlife Fair raises £2,150 to support Norfolk Wildlife Trust projects
Wednesday 10 July, 2019
The first Pensthorpe Bird and Wildlife Fair was held on Saturday 18 and Sunday 19 May 2019 at Pensthorpe Natural Park...
2019-07-09 Shoals of visitors to take ove Shoals of visitors to take over Cley Beach for Ocean Commotion
Tuesday 09 July, 2019
Norfolk Wildlife Trust is delighted that Ben Garrod: ambassador, UEA professor and BBC broadcaster, will be making wa...
2019-07-01 30 Days Wild challenge reaches 30 Days Wild challenge reaches new record
Monday 01 July, 2019
More than 400,000 people went wild every day in June  The Wildlife Trusts’ annual 30 Days Wild challenge ...
2019-06-28 NWT Trustee meets Norfolk MPs NWT Trustee meets Norfolk MPs at mass nature and climate change lobby outside Parliament
Friday 28 June, 2019
A Trustee of Norfolk Wildlife Trust travelled to Westminster to meet with local MPs including Henry Bellingham MP at ...
2019-06-26 June blooms display meadow cre June blooms display meadow creation success
Wednesday 26 June, 2019
On a fine sunny evening in June, trustees and local landowners joined Norfolk Wildlife Trust Conservation Officer, He...
2019-06-21 Celebrate Norfolk Commons Week Celebrate Norfolk Commons Week Saturday 6 to Sunday 14 July
Friday 21 June, 2019
Norfolk Wildlife Trust is holding a week of free walks, talks, activities and events to celebrate our heritage of com...
2019-06-13 The Wildlife Trusts’ CEO Steph The Wildlife Trusts’ CEO Stephanie Hilborne announces departure
Thursday 13 June, 2019
Stephanie Hilborne OBE has announced she is stepping down as Chief Executive of The Wildlife Trusts in October. It is...
2019-05-31 New wave of protection for the New wave of protection for the sea announced today
Friday 31 May, 2019
Today Norfolk Wildlife Trust welcomes the news that the Government is designating a third phase of 41 new Marine Cons...
2019-05-16 Cley Family Days to begin on c Cley Family Days to begin on county celebration day
Thursday 16 May, 2019
Norfolk Wildlife Trust will mark Norfolk Day – the annual celebration of all that makes our county great &ndash...