Protect the endangered Gulf of Mexico Rice’s whale from extinction

What's At Stake

The Gulf of Mexico Rice’s whale can be as big as a railroad boxcar and as heavy as a typical fire truck and is the only large whale species that lives year-round in United States waters. And because of fossil fuel exploration development and other human activities, it is also the most endangered large whale species in the world. Fewer than 100 of these rare whales remain, and government scientists have concluded that the death of even a single reproductive-age female would jeopardize the existence of this species. 

Join Earthjustice in urging the Biden administration to fully protect the endangered Gulf of Mexico Rice’s whale from extinction.

Continued oil and gas development in the Gulf of Mexico represents a clear, existential threat to the whale’s survival and recovery. The BP Deepwater Horizon oil disaster alone wiped out nearly 20 percent of the Gulf of Mexico whale population.  

At a time when the population is on the brink, even day-to-day oil and gas operations harm the whale’s habitat — including the continuous stream of drilling supply and support vessels transiting their waters. Since Gulf of Mexico whales spend a lot of time hanging out within 50 feet of the water’s surface, they are especially at risk from ship strikes. The whales are persistently found in a rainbow-shaped band that stretches from Florida across the northern Gulf all the way through Mexico in waters 100-400 meters deep – underscoring the urgent need for wider protections from vessels.   

Seismic air gun surveys dominate the sound environment across the northern Gulf as fossil fuel companies search for oil and gas deposits beneath the ocean. These deafening blasts are masking vital whale calls that marine mammals depend on to communicate, navigate, and find food over large ocean areas.  Rice’s whales need immediate protection from oil exploration and drilling operations, including an immediate slow-down of oil-and-gas-related vessel traffic through their habitat if we’re going to have any chance of saving them in the years ahead. 

Gulf of Mexico Rice’s whales can recover as long as conditions improve, but that all depends on our actions. Unless the Biden administration takes significant conservation actions, the U.S. is likely to be responsible for the first human-caused extinction of a great whale species. We cannot let that happen. Send a message today urge the protection of these whales and solutions for their recovery. Only a permanent transition away from dirty oil and to a clean energy future will give these whales the fighting chance they need. 

A Gulf of Mexico whale.
A Gulf of Mexico whale. With likely fewer than 100 individuals remaining, the Gulf of Mexico whale is one of the most endangered whales in the world. (NOAA Fisheries)

Delivery to Biden administration

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