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A Whale’s Tale: The importance of networks of MPAs

Join our host, the Humpback Whale, on a special journey through our oceans to explore very important places called marine protected areas. Right now only 1.3 % of our waters are protected. The Humpback Whale is just one of the many animals in our oceans that are depending on us and our governments to raise that number to 10% by 2020.

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Dare to be Deep: Protect Canada's ocean!
Dare to be Deep: Protect Canada's ocean!

Over 16,000 people have signed on in support of marine protection in Canada. Add your voice to support advancing marine conservation through the establishment of a network of marine protected areas!

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Click below for more whale facts!

Getting to know the whale

Whales are magnificent creatures that migrate between cold water for feeding, and warm water for breeding. Most whales only have one calf, which they carry for 9-15 months and feed for up to a year, depending on the species. Whales can grow up to 50 feet long, and have a diet that ranges from plankton to other types of whales. 

Whales are extremely important to the health of the ocean because they bring balance to the marine ecosystem and are estimated to pull 400,000 tonnes of carbon from the air annually. Unfortunately, all types of whales are endangered due to climate change and human activity, and would be well served with a network of marine protected areas. 

Whales and You

Whales play an important role in the marine ecosystem and have a huge impact on the ocean, which means they also have a huge impact on humans (without us even realizing it!). Throughout history, people have been amazed by, and drawn to, the whale. Since the story of Moby Dick was published in 1851, whales have been a prominent part of our pop culture and show no signs of slowing down. Whales have starred in books by Christopher Moore and Jodi Picoult, as well as popular films and documentaries. They have become a symbol of hope for protecting the ocean.

The following pictoral timeline highlights some of the more well-known whale references throughout history.

Get Social: How many of them have played a role in how you view whales and the ocean? Post your favourite whale pop culture reference on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram using #whalesandme


The threat

Whales and other marine life encounter a number of threats. Beyond finding food and avoiding predators, underwater creatures contend with entanglement in fishing gear, ship strikes, noise pollution, and oil and gas development activities. Marine protected areas (MPAs) are places in the ocean that are legally designated for conservation, providing long-term protection for marine ecosystems, habitats and species. The more MPSs we have, the greater the chance that our natural marine environment is maintained well into the future. Unfortunately, Canada has only protected 1.3% of its ocean.





What CPAWS is doing

Have you met Baleen?

Baleen is a whaley special creature. She is the only Humpback Whale that spends more time on land than in the water! As our whale mascot, Baleen has a special porpoise to help us spread the message about protecting our ocean to communities all over Canada. Follow Baleen's journey through our blog.

Get Social: Have you seen Baleen in your neighbourhood? Post your pics with Baleen on Instagram using #whalesandme. 

Follow Baleen's adventures:    

Learn more about what CPAWS is doing to protect whales and their habitat by visiting our Oceans page.


MPA Fact Sheet

Oceans Fact Sheet


This campaign has been made possible by:



Executive Summary: Dare to be Deep, SeaStates Report on North America’s MPAs (June 2016)
Dare to be Deep: SeaStates Report on North America’s Marine Protected Areas (MPAs) (June 2016)

In the first ever joint assessment of progress on marine protected areas (MPAs) in North America, the Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society (CPAWS) and the Marine Conservation Institute (MCI) find Canada, Mexico and the USA have a long way to go to collectively and individually reach international and national targets to protect at least 10% of the continental ocean estate.*

Oceans Report 2015: Dare to be Deep: Are Canada’s Marine Protected Areas Really ‘Protected’? (June 2015)

The question we pose in this report is ‘how well do Canada’s marine protected areas actually protect ocean ecosystems from industrial activities?’ This seems like a fairly straightforward question, yet it turned out to be much more difficult to answer than we expected, and the information we uncovered is worrying.

MPA Fact Sheet (2015)

Learn about marine protected areas and their importance for marine ecosystems.

Oceans Report: Dare to be Deep: Charting Canada’s Course to 2020 (2014)

The ocean supports a tremendous diversity of life from coastal areas to the deep sea, and contains 99% of the space available for life on Earth. From plankton to whales, marine species live in a delicate balance that can easily be disturbed by human activities, and cause a domino effect on species half-way around the world.

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