Protect the endangered Gulf of Mexico whale from extinction

What's At Stake

The Rice’s whale, also known as the Gulf of Mexico 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 the waters of the United States. 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. One way to help the endangered Gulf of Mexico whale is by protecting them from collisions with vessels and noise pollution.  

Continued oil and gas development in the Gulf of Mexico represents a clear, existential threat to the whale’s survival and recovery. At a time when the population is on the brink, day-to-day oil and gas operations negatively impact the whale’s habitat — including the continuous stream of drilling supply and support vessels transiting their waters. Today, government scientists have concluded that the death of even a single reproductive-age female would jeopardize the existence of this species. 

Soon after the government classified the Gulf of Mexico whales as endangered, Earthjustice joined with partners to push for speed limits to slow down ships in places where the whales are most frequently spotted. The National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) is now accepting public comments on the proposal to lower ship speed limits in the whales’ habitat and we need you to weigh in. 

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 Texas in waters 100-400 meters deep – underscoring the urgent need for wider protections from vessels.   

Slowing down for Gulf of Mexico whales is a key step and only one part of the protection that is needed. These 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 cause the first extinction of a great whale species resulting from human activity. We cannot let that happen. Send a message today urging for the protection of these whales and solutions for their recovery. 

A Gulf of Mexico whale.
A Gulf of Mexico whale. (NOAA Fisheries)

30 Days Remain

Delivery to National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS)

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