Marine Life

Minke whale - Photo by iStock

Our oceans are vast, open environments teeming with an amazing variety of plant and animal species. Healthy oceans are vital to the planet’s biological web. Unfortunately the health and sustainability of ocean ecosystems are under threat like never before.

From krill to the great whales, creatures who live in the ocean are subject to myriad threats—most of which are anthropogenic (human-generated) in origin. Destructive fishing practices, increased ship traffic, energy exploration and development, pollution, coastal development, hunting, and direct capture for public display are just some of the most publicized—though not adequately addressed—threats facing our ocean ecosystems and their inhabitants. Each one of these actions singularly is harmful but when compounded, they are devastating for the marine ecosystem and the many species, including humans, which depend on the ocean's resources for survival.

The Animal Welfare Institute is committed to safeguarding marine species and their habitats. Our efforts focus on curbing humankind's harmful impact by urging governments and other decision makers to halt or prevent damaging actions, as well as educating the public and others about the deleterious effects their actions can wreak on the oceans' inhabitants.


Find out more about whaling, small cetacean hunts, and governance.

Confinement of Marine Life

Find out more about how marine life are often captured, traded and confined for use in public interactions, and how you can responsibly watch cetaceans in the wild.


The oceans are teeming with unique and awe-inspiring creatures. However, harmful and unsustainable fishing operations pose a serious threat to the ocean’s biodiversity.

Shark Finning

Many shark populations have faced steep declines due to years of exploitation, including the practice of shark finning. Sharks' slow reproductive rates make them extremely vulnerable to extinction. The disappearance of sharks—apex predators in many ecosystems—causes dangerous imbalances in marine communities worldwide.


Though the oceans may seem endless, they are not infinitely resilient. Humans have impacted the oceans for millennia, but the past several centuries have seen a dramatic acceleration as we have industrialized our way of life, resulting in astonishing levels of pollution, even in uninhabited and remote areas.

BlueVoice: An Enduring Legacy for Whales and Dolphins

AWI’s tribute to Hardy Jones, Marine Wildlife Conservationist and Filmmaker and our role in continuing his legacy with the Rapid Response Fund.

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