A new campaign to help protect the critically endangered Iberian Orca has been launched by WeWhale Association (part of the WeWhale group).  

The small subpopulation (estimated to be ca.35 individuals), that lives in the Strait of Gibraltar from the beginning of April to the end of October, faces numerous threats including maritime traffic, pollution, and, increasingly, aggressive interactions from recreational boaters.  

WeWhale this week launched a GoFundMe campaign whereby animal lovers can donate money to help fund a comprehensive surveillance and protection programme, both at sea and on land.  

A sea-based team is planning to be on patrol five days a week, surveying the orca population, preventing attacks on the orca from boaters, and helping to avoid possible interactions between boats and orca. This work is being supported by Sea Shepherd France 

At the same time, a land-based crew will observe and monitor the orca population from strategic coastal locations.  

Donations to the GoFundMe will directly fund equipment and resources for the surveillance teams, research and analysis to better understand orca behaviour and interactions, and advocacy efforts to raise awareness and enforce protections for the Iberian Orca.

WeWhale is proud to launch the GoFundMe campaign with a special video, in partnership with zoologist and wildlife presenter Billy Heaney.

Save the Iberian orca

Billy features in the video, speaking about the reported interactions between Iberian Orca and boaters, particularly over the last three years, the reasons why these interactions are happening, and why these animals need to be protected via this campaign.  

Founder of WeWhale, Janek Andre said, “We are delighted to be launching this GoFundMe campaign, with a view to beginning the surveillance and protection programme this April. With only 35 individuals left, the situation is dire for Iberian orca.

“More than 500 interactions between Iberian Orca and boats have been reported from 2020 to 2023, escalating to the point where recreational boaters have begun to use violence, shooting at approaching orca.

“Continued interactions pose a significant threat to the survival of this important subpopulation and the years 2024, 2025 and 2026 are pivotal in ensuring their survival. We cannot stand by and do nothing while this population is increasingly under threat. The time to act is now. With your support, we can protect and preserve the Iberian Orca for generations to come.” 

In August 2023, a recreational boat crew was observed and filmed shooting at orca, as they were approaching the vessel in the Strait of Gibraltar.  

WeWhale, along with the World Cetacean Alliance and Sea Shepherd France,  filed charges against the captain and boat owner. This case is currently making its way through the Spanish court system.   

You can view the launch video here:  

And contribute to the Save the Iberian Orca GoFundMe page.   

For donations over €50, an Iberian Orca postcard will be sent to donors. The Iberian Orca apparel collection can be be bought under https://wewhale.co/shop and 100% of the profits of the collection will be dedicated to fund our campaign. All of these beautiful items are designed by ocean artist Rachel Brooks.