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Protect the Gulf's Hidden Marvel

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28.88% Complete

Sponsor: The Animal Rescue Site

The story of Rice's Whale is an urgent call to action, a tale of hope, and a battle for the future. Take action for this species!


In the vast expanse of the Gulf of Mexico, where offshore oil rigs and a thriving oil industry dominate the waters, a remarkable discovery emerged – Rice's whale. This newfound species, also known as the Gulf of Mexico whale, has sent shockwaves through the scientific community and triggered a fierce legal battle pitting environmental conservation against fossil fuel interests.

Time is running out for these magnificent creatures. With just around 50 individuals remaining, Rice's whale stands as one of the planet's most endangered marine mammals1. Their survival is hanging by a thread, and it's up to us to ensure their continued existence.

Discovering Rice's Whale

In early 2019, a pivotal moment occurred in the Florida Everglades – a whale washed ashore2. This tragic event marked the beginning of a remarkable journey to uncover the secrets of Rice's whale. Years of suspicion that these Gulf of Mexico whales were unique species led to groundbreaking genetic analysis in 20213. They were declared a new species, named after biologist Dale Rice, who first identified them1.

Threats to Rice's Whale

Despite this triumphant discovery, Rice's whales face numerous threats to their existence:

  1. Oil Extraction: The oil and gas industry, deeply entrenched in the Gulf, poses a grave threat1. Even minor oil spills can be catastrophic for these fragile creatures.

  2. Seismic Air Guns: Seismic air guns used in oil and gas exploration disrupt their ability to communicate and navigate4.

  3. Vessel Strikes: Commercial shipping lanes increase the risk of collisions5.

  4. Ocean Noise: Underwater noise pollution interferes with their essential life functions6.

  5. Ocean Debris: Ingesting plastic and debris leads to injuries and death7.

The Battle Unfolds

To safeguard Rice's whales, the Biden administration proposed designating a critical habitat in the Gulf8. This would reduce fossil fuel activities in the region and protect their fragile ecosystem.

However, these proposals faced fierce opposition from oil drillers and lawmakers9. They argued that such protections would harm the economy.

In a recent ruling, a federal judge sided with the oil industry, ordering the reversal of the proposed lease sale10. This decision is a setback for conservation efforts, but we won't give up.

What Lies Ahead

Despite legal hurdles, we await the Biden administration's next move, which could include critical habitat designation8. Time is running out for Rice's whales, and their fate rests on the decisions made in these contested waters.

Take action now! Sign our petition and stand with us in the fight to protect Rice's whales and their Gulf of Mexico habitat. Together, we can ensure more resilient marine habitats and a stronger national cultural identity.

Let's make a difference. Save Rice's whales today!

More on this issue:

  1. NOAA Fisheries (12 September 2023), "Rice's Whale."
  2. Emily Leclerc, Smithsonian (16 February 2021), "Scientists Describe New Species of Rare Bryde’s Whale."
  3. Patricia E. Rosel, Lynsey A. Wilcox, Tadasu K. Yamada, Keith D. Mullin, Marine Mammal Science (10 January 2021), "A new species of baleen whale (Balaenoptera) from the Gulf of Mexico, with a review of its geographic distribution."
  4. Earthjustice (22 February 2023), "Oil Companies are Blasting Seismic Air Guns in an Endangered Whale’s Habitat."
  5. NOAA Fisheries, "Understanding Vessel Strikes."
  6. Christine Erbe, Sarah A. Marley, Renée P. Schoeman, Joshua N. Smith, Leah E. Trigg, Clare Beth Embling, Frontiers in Marine Science (2019), "The Effects of Ship Noise on Marine Mammals—A Review."
  7. Chris Johnson, World Wildlife Fund (18 February 2021), "Whales and the plastics problem."
  8. Jennifer A Dlouhy, Bloomberg (23 August 2023), "Biden Trims Gulf Oil Lease Area to Protect Rare Whale Habitat."
  9. Dino Grandoni and Timothy Puko, Washington Post (26 September 2023), "Meet the whale that may upend the offshore oil industry."
  10. Kevin McGill, Associated Press (22 September 2023), "Judge blocks government plan to scale back Gulf oil lease sale to protect whale species."
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The Petition:

To the United States Secretary of Commerce and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA),

I am writing to express my strong support for President Biden's proposal to designate a critical habitat in the Gulf of Mexico for the endangered Rice's whales (Balaenoptera ricei). The preservation of this unique marine species and their habitat is of paramount importance not only to the conservation of our marine biodiversity but also to our national identity as responsible stewards of our natural heritage.

The discovery of Rice's whales in the Gulf of Mexico is nothing short of remarkable. With fewer than 50 individuals remaining, this species teeters on the brink of extinction. Their survival is threatened by a multitude of factors, including oil extraction, seismic air guns, vessel strikes, ocean noise, and ocean debris. Without immediate and decisive action, we risk losing this critically endangered species forever.

President Biden's proposal to protect a 28,000-square-mile area as critical habitat for Rice's whales represents a significant step toward safeguarding their future. It includes measures such as reduced vessel speeds to mitigate the risk of collisions, which are a grave threat to these elusive creatures.

I urge you to consider the vital role that Rice's whales play in our nation's natural heritage. They are unique among marine mammals in that they live entirely within U.S. waters, making them a symbol of our national responsibility for their conservation. Protecting this species and their habitat will not only ensure the survival of a remarkable marine mammal but also contribute to more resilient marine ecosystems in the Gulf of Mexico.

Furthermore, these actions will strengthen our national cultural identity as protectors of our natural treasures. Preserving Rice's whales and their habitat demonstrates our commitment to environmental stewardship and our dedication to future generations.

Thank you for your attention to this critical matter, and I trust that you will make the right choice for the future of Rice's whales and our nation's natural heritage.

Sincerely,

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Signatures: