People behind ASCOBANS: Fabian Ritter

  Name: Fabian Ritter

  Organization: Whale and Dolphin Conservation (WDC)

  Country: Germany

  Involved with ASCOBANS since: 2012

I am a marine biologist and have worked in the field of cetacean research since about 25 years. My great fascination for whales and dolphins made me study biology to pursue a career in this field. These animals always were so close to me that they regularly turned up in my dreams! Alongside my interest and my studies the knowledge about the manifold threats they have to face today also grew. Pollution, bycatch, overfishing, ship strikes, to name but a few. Hence, quite automatically, my awareness rose that we have to tackle these threats so as to make this world a better place for them – as well as for us.We cannot save humankind if we cannot save whales and dolphins!

My most intense experience with ASCOBANS was the exhibition “The last 300” we developed together with NGOs – based on a creative  competition which made people think about the plight of the harbour porpoise in the Baltic Sea. I am happy to be able to contribute to harbour porpoise conservation through my work as a campaigner and cetacean expert at WDC. It is a tough job, often frustrating and always open-ended, but it feels good (trying) to be part of the solution rather than the problem.

I am lucky enough to have studied cetaceans in the wild off La Gomera, one of the Canary Islands. There, I had some of my most intense encounters with whales or dolphins, including a sighting of a rare blue whale, most exciting observations of socializing dolphin groups numbering many hundred individuals as well as observing the extraordinary behaviour of pilot whales, and seeing rare beaked whales close up! My favourite species, however, remains the rough-toothed dolphin. They are relatively little known and always extremely interesting to observe. They are funny-looking animals (one of the most beautiful to my eyes), and often behave quite surprisingly. We watched them using marine turtles and seabirds as toys, or performing long series of leaps and breaches.

I sincerely hope that ASCOBANS will continue to grown and drive its Member States towards more research, sensible mitigation measures and monitoring of cetacean populations in Europe and beyond. It is my greatest wish that ASCOBANS members commit themselves to stronger measures, especially in terms of bycatch prevention through a more conscientious and far-sighted use of fishing methods.

Last updated on 27 April 2017

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