19 February: Marine Mammal Protection Day

19 February: Marine Mammal Protection Day

19 February 2020

Marine Mammal Protection Day is observed on 19 February.  A moratorium on whaling introduced by the International Whaling Commission (IWC) entered into force on that day in 1986.


On this day, nature reserves and national parks under the jurisdiction of the Russian Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment hold events marking this important date.


The importance of protecting particularly vulnerable sea mammals was one of the reasons behind the establishment of Russia’s biggest marine protected area,  the Komandorsky Nature Reserve in the Kamchatka Territory.


Large breeding grounds of northern fur seals and sea lions have been under protection there since 1993. The reserve is home to sea otters and insular seals listed in the Red Data Book of the Russian Federation; Baird’s beaked whales, humpback whales and cachalots safely swim in waters far from sea routes.


The reserve employees plan to hold a number of environmental education events for the public and tourists in the village of Nikolskoye. Thematic lectures and workshops will be conducted in the visitor centre of Russian Arctic National Park (Arkhangelsk Region) in Northern (Arctic) Federal University.


Komandorsky Nature Reserve workers will share their plans to study sea mammals this year with visitors. In cooperation with their partners in higher education and leading national research centres, they plan to establish a research facility in the park. One of the goals of this research facility will be to conduct comprehensive studies of sea mammals. In addition, they will continue working on a unique project to study narwhals and other whales with the Severtsov Institute of Ecology and Evolution at the Russian Academy of Sciences and the Native Cities charity foundation. WWF will start monitoring Atlantic walruses in the north of the Novaya Zemlya archipelago.


The waters of Russian Arctic National Park are home to such sea mammals as beluga whales, narwhals, bowhead whales, common minke whales, probably fin back and humpback whales, as well as Atlantic walruses that have numerous coastal breeding grounds in summer, ringed seals, bearded seals and harp seals.


 The Kronotsky Biosphere Reserve and the Sakhalin-based Boomerang public organisation prepared materials for biology classes and extracurricular classes in schools and kindergartens to be held around the environmental holiday.


“We invite Russian schools and kindergartens to join nature protection classes devoted to the sea mammals day. Whales deserve special attention. They are very interesting mammals with their own social relations and communication. They have a unique lifestyle. Despite their huge size, whales are highly vulnerable. They are primarily threatened by ocean pollution, whaling and the impact of underwater noise from shipping,” said Galina Polushko, a teaching specialist in the environmental education and PR department at the Kronotsky Nature Reserve.


According to the latest data, 13 types of whales live in the Kronotsky Biosphere Reserve. The migration routes of gray whales pass through its waters. Gray whales are protected by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) and are included in the Red Data Books of Russia and the Kamchatka Territory. On 20 February in Kaliningrad, protected area employees of the Kamchatka Peninsula will open a photo exhibition, To the Shores of Kamchatka Reserves.