The Wildlife Trusts are proposing that 17 special areas around England and Wales should become protected places for our dolphins, whales and sharks. These hotspots are where these charismatic animals gather to feed, breed and socialise.

There are virtually no protected areas for whales, dolphins and basking sharks in English and Welsh seas

After many years of campaigning by us and others, the UK government has finally begun protecting areas at sea so that marine wildlife and habitats can begin to recover from decades of damage, decline and over-exploitation.  It’s long overdue but these new Marine Protected Areas (MPAs) only protect habitats and wildlife on the seabed. 

Unfortunately, our marine megafauna – the 29 species of whales, dolphins and porpoises, and basking sharks regularly found around our coast - are still at risk from damaging activities and some species are in decline.

The nutrient-rich places they they need most for feeding, breeding and socialising are not protected - there are currently no areas of English waters protected for them, and only one in Wales.

We want to change that.

On the 29th September 2015, we took an amazing 10,109 signatures to the Fisheries Minister, George Eustice MP, calling for better protection for our Ocean Giants.

Thank you for your incredible support!

This campaign covers Welsh and English seas - read about what's happening in Scotland and Northern Ireland.


The initial megafauna hotspots that we have identified are based on combining data gathered by The Wildlife Trusts with publicly available data.  There will be other important areas for which data is not yet available and, therefore, what we are proposing here is step one.  More research is needed to ensure all the right areas have the protection they need.

Pollution, some types of fishing and industrial development also affect our ocean giants and work is underway to address these harmful impacts.  Protecting our megafauna hotspots and their ecosystem processes is an important start.

You can see the areas we are proposing and find out more about each of them in our summary report Save our Ocean Giants - the protected areas we need for dolphins, whales and basking sharks, or read a full technical report - both can be downloaded from the bottom of this page. 

Find out more about our work to help our marine megafauna here.

We'd also like to share a gripping article, written by wildlife television presenter, Nick Baker, about his intense and determined encounter with a basking shark off Cornwall's coast.  Read An appointment with Mrs Maximus here.

If this inspires you, you can discover which other species you can see off UK shores and those we're keen to protect in our image gallery, here.

Basking shark - Alex Mustard (2020Vision)

Basking shark (photo:Alex Mustard/2020Vision)


FilenameFile size
save_our_ocean_giants_summary_version.pdf407.19 KB
megafauna_hotspots_full_technical_report.pdf1.92 MB