Thursday, 27 November 2014

Matylda and Morgan

There once was a little girl called Matylda who went on a wonderful adventure to Panama with her mum, dad, little sister Edith, and a very special little Orca called Morgan. Nestled in central America with the Caribbean Sea on one side and the vast Pacific Ocean on the other, Panama is home to wild tropical jungle, golden sandy beaches and blue turquoise water filled with coral reefs, colourful fishes and a multitude of marine creatures including whales and dolphins. Morgan was honoured to join this family on their adventure, and while she cannot speak ‘human’ Matylda has spoken for Morgan by writing down her adventures with this little whale in this special place.

Morgan's Holiday Book By Matylda

Matylda, her family and Morgan headed to Contadora Island, set off the southern, Pacific coast of Panama and here they headed out in search of humpback whales and dolphins. In Matylda’s words "Morgan has had a brilliant time with us. Morgan came on a boat trip with us and another family. We saw Humpback Whales. Morgan went on a catamaran and we saw Spotted Dolphins but Edith was asleep. We were on a net (the cat had a net to sit on the bow). We had a brilliant time!"

Matylda's drawing of her family and Morgan onboard a catamaran whale watching!

Did you know that Panama is the only place in the whole world where Humpback Whales from both the Northern and Southern Hemisphere come to breed!? The dolphins that Morgan and Matylda saw were Pantropical Spotted Dolphins, the species most commonly encountered in the waters off Panama. They are curious and very interactive, often swimming for hours and playing around the boats.

Pantropical Spotted Dolphin (not from Panama but the same species!)

Morgan and Matylda went whale watching with World Cetacean Alliance Partner, Whale Watching Panama. Click here to find out more about their trips and the magical place of Panama! 

Finally it is just left to us to say 'Thank You' to Matylda for taking our Morgan on this adventure, for speaking for her and telling us all about your adventure together.

Monday, 17 November 2014


Leaving New London and Wyland’s Wall, our little Morgan headed to the 50th and most recent state to join the United States of America: Hawaii! Surrounded by the vastness of the Pacific Ocean, the state encompasses the volcanic Hawaiian Archipelago, hundreds of islands spread over 1500 miles. Morgan travelled to the third largest of the islands, Oahu, with WCA partner Patti Sullivan from CSI. 

Together they circled the island, exploring its volcanic landscape, the lush green slopes that meet golden beaches and turquoise blue waters. From Honolulu they headed to the southern shore where they gazed upon Diamond Head crater, an inactive volcano and the Hawaiian ‘money shot’. From there they headed to the fabled north shore where surfers ride huge glassy winter waves. 

Enjoying the stunning scenery of Oahu

And the best bit for Morgan? Finding the information boards about The Humpback Whale National Marine Sanctuary and even seeing the wispy blows of Humpback Whales just offshore! These whales have just returned to the warm tropical waters around the islands from Alaska where they have spent the northern summer gorging on the abundance of food found in those cool waters. In Hawaii they will mate, give birth, and not feed until they have returned north next spring. 

Learning about the sanctuary, and watching whales!

The sanctuary is managed by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and the State of Hawaii. Through research, education, outreach, regulations and guidelines the sanctuary aims to protect the Humpback Whales, their habitat and the cultural heritage of the islands. 

As they read Morgan and Patti leaned about the issues that whales face even within the comparative safety of the sanctuary, from water quality to marine debris to acoustic disturbance. For Morgan the one that caught her attention the most was entanglement. In many cases Humpback Whales will drag nets, lines, pots and gear all the way from Alaska! It is an incredible, arduous journey at the best of times, let alone dragging a load of fishing gear all that way. It was only in February this year that a whale was rescued from fishing gear in the waters around Hawaii. That was possible through the Hawaiian Islands Disentanglement Network, a community based network formed in 2002 to free Humpback Whales and other marine animals from entanglement. It is wonderful to know there are dedicated people willing to protect Humpback Whales and their habitat, and work to free them where possible when they become entangled. 

Read more about the work of the sanctuary and the Disentanglement Network at and find more photos of Morgan's adventure to Hawaii at Morgan's Facebook page 

For Morgan there was one last chance to enjoy the lemon yellow sunset that is so hard to find anywhere else, before heading off on her next adventure...

Sunday, 9 November 2014

From London to New London

From London, England and standing in front of New Zealand House petitioning for the smallest and one of the rarest dolphins in the world, Morgan was back in the USA. This time she was exploring the history of New London, Connecticut. During the height of the whaling era in the early 19th Century, New London was one of the busiest whaling ports. Oil from whales was exploited but essential to much of the industrial development of the area, with the wealth invested in railroads and hospitals. In the 21st century there is now a recognition for the need to save whales and preserve our ocean environment in a sustainable way. While there are still some countries that hunt whales, thankfully in many countries it is now simply a part of their history. 

Morgan and the history of whaling in New London

A prominent landmark in New London is Wyland’s Whale Wall. Wyland, an American artist best known for his Whaling Walls; large murals painted on buildings across America, featuring life-sized whales.  In New London there was only really one species that could be painted, the whale most hunted by Connecticut whalers in the 1800s, the Sperm Whale. It was Dr Robbins Barstow, one of the founders of WCA partner Cetacean Society International (CSI) and who dedicated his life to saving whales, leading the charge in the effort to stop the slaughter of whales, who invited Wyland to paint the wall in New London. In July 1993 and within one week Wyland had created his Sperm Whale masterpiece. 

Morgan at Wyland's Whale Wall in New London

Over the years the painting began to deteriorate and in 2006 there was even talk of painting over the wall. It was the residents of the city who united with CSI to protect and restore the wall, so that it remains as an icon of awareness and inspiration to these incredible underwater creatures. For Morgan is was a chance to wonder through the history of this place with current members of CSI Patricia Sullivan and Paul Di Gangi. 

Read more about Dr Barstow in CSI’s Whales Alive newsletter written by one of our Morgan’s best friends, Patricia Sullivan. Find out more about the work of CSI at their website

Check out Follow Free Morgan's Facebook page for more photos of her adventure around New London, and while you are there why not Like and Follow us!

Sunday, 2 November 2014

A Vigil for Maui's and Hector's Dolphins

30th October 2014 and Dr Barbara Maas and Dr Liz Slooten, Champions of the smallest and one of the most threatened sub-species of dolphin, the Maui’s Dolphin, came to New Zealand House in London to hand over a petition of over 156,000 signatures to the New Zealand High Commission. From an estimated 1800 40 years ago, today there are only 50 Maui’s Dolphins left and they are only found around the North Island of New Zealand. While there are more Hector’s Dolphins (the other sub-species which are only found around the South Island of New Zealand) they too are in need of urgent protection. Both are at severe risk of entanglement in set-net fishing gear. The Maui’s Dolphin in particular is on the edge of extinction. 

Morgan, and mini Maui's and the Petition

What do they need? Full and complete protection from harmful fishing methods across their range. The world’s leading independent scientists, including those from the International Whaling Commission, the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN), the Society for Marine Mammalogy, and World Cetacean Alliance partners including Dr Maas herself, all agree. So do 156,523 members of the public. People who do not want to see this small, charismatic, endemic and unique dolphin disappear; People who want future generations to be able to see these dolphins, wild and free. 

Our little Morgan feels the same. With WCA partners Rachael Barber and Isabelle Sikora, Morgan joined a small but dedicated group of Maui’s and Hector’s Dolphins advocates to watch as Dr Maas and Dr Slooten handed over the results of this petition. 

Then with the red buses, taxis and general London traffic rumbling behind us, we handed out leaflets and cheered every honk for Maui’s and Hector’s Dolphin. 

Find out more about Hector’s and Maui’s Dolphin and the campaign to protect them at or the Hector’s and Maui’s Dolphin SOS Facebook page Why not follow them on Twitter @HectorsMauisSOS, and let’s make as much noise for these the Hobbits of the Sea.