NOAA Puts Endangered Whale in the Spotlight

Rice's whale swimming at the surface of the ocean.

Rice's whale swimming at the surface of the ocean. Photo obtained under ESA/MMPA permit #21938. Credit: NOAA SEFSC

Rice’s whale is among the most endangered marine mammal species on the planet; experts estimate that fewer than 100 remain, all in the Gulf of Mexico.  We’ve written about these desperately endangered whales before. Their survival is threatened in multiple ways – most prominently by oil and gas development and vessel strikes.

We have some tentative good news to report for the holidays. 

Yesterday, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) added Rice’s whale to its “Species in the Spotlight” initiative, as one of ten species in need of immediate, targeted action to prevent extinction. This initiative began in 2015 to bring more attention and garner resources for some of the country’s most endangered marine species. The addition of Rice’s whale could well be important for increasing necessary management efforts, prioritizing agency funding, and engaging with local agencies and partners to raise awareness about this magnificent whale.

Of course, while we’re very happy to see Rice’s whale become a priority for NOAA, what ultimately matters is how the agency translates this important recognition into conservation for the species. We’ll continue to advocate for action in the new year. In the meantime, we hope that everyone will write Secretary Raimondo to urge measures to protect the species. 

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