Letter: Mythical mammals that deserve special treatment from mankind

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The Independent Online
Sir: I was most interested in your report 'Baby whale 'back on course' ' (26 June) and would be grateful for the opportunity of commenting further on this fascinating incident.

Dr Peter Evans, scientific director of the Sea Watch Foundation, has been running a network for sighting cetaceans (whales, dolphins and porpoises) around the British and Irish coasts since the early Seventies and has recorded eight confirmed sightings of humpback whales. The most recent of these was by whale-watchers on Bardsey Island who sent in a report of one in the Irish Sea last year.

The presence of this animal off the west coast of England is by no means unprecedented, but it is certainly a rare occurrence.

The humpback whale was given protection by the International Whaling Commission in the early Sixties, yet, despite optimism in the commission, the stock that migrates past the British Isles shows no signs of recovery. If there are repeat sightings of other animals over the next few years, it could indicate that this sadly depleted relict population may, at last, be showing signs of recovery. However, the isolated sighting of one animal cannot be used to argue that such a recovery is occurring.

Yours faithfully,

PAUL VODDEN

Director of Administration

Sea Watch Foundation

Southwater, West Sussex

1 July

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