An open letter – signed by over 100 scientists – was despatched to the Biden administration yesterday, urging for the fast safety of the endangered Gulf of Mexico whale.
Because the Marine Mammal Safety Act (MMPA) was enacted a half-century in the past, no species of marine mammals has gone extinct in U.S waters.
However with solely about 50 particular person remaining, based on federal authorities estimates, the Gulf of Mexico whale faces dire threats from fossil gas exploration and improvement and different human actions.
Within the letter, which was despatched to secretary of the Inside Deb Haaland and secretary of commerce Gina Raimondo, the scientists sound an alarm concerning the potential lack of a uniquely American species.
The whale, they observe, is “the one massive whale species resident year-round within the waters of the USA. But few on-water measures have been established to guard it.
Except vital conservation actions are taken,” they conclude, “the USA is prone to trigger the primary anthropogenic extinction of an incredible whale species.”
“The Gulf of Mexico whale is essentially the most endangered whale species on the earth. To one of the best of our information, it happens solely in U.S. waters, so Individuals have a particular duty to work collectively to reserve it,” stated Dr. Peter Corkeron, senior scientist on the New England Aquarium’s Anderson Cabot Heart for Ocean Life.
The Gulf of Mexico whale, often known as Rice’s whale, was acknowledged solely final yr as a definite species, though it has lengthy been identified to reside within the Gulf’s offshore waters.
Continued oil and gasoline improvement within the Gulf represents a “clear, existential menace to the whale’s survival and restoration,” the scientists state, citing the impacts of far-reaching airgun surveys and of oil spills.
The federal government estimates that shut to twenty % of the inhabitants was killed within the wake of the Deepwater Horizon spill.
Choices governing future oil and gasoline actions within the Gulf might be remodeled the subsequent a number of months. The Bureau of Ocean Vitality Administration is anticipated to challenge a brand new five-year oil and gasoline leasing program for the Outer Continental Shelf, whereas the Nationwide Marine Fisheries Service is anticipated to challenge a brand new regulation for the conduct of airgun surveys within the Gulf.
“Our future is dependent upon a transition away from fossil fuels, and renewable power will profit the Gulf of Mexico in the long run,” stated Dr. Joe Roman, fellow on the Gund Institute for the Surroundings and the Harvard Radcliffe Institute.
“However we have to do all the things doable, from stopping ship strikes to defending crucial habitat, to safe the Gulf of Mexico whale’s place on this greener future,” he provides.
Among the many signatories are consultants from Cornell College, Woods Gap Oceanographic Establishment, marine analysis facilities from all over the world, and several other aquariums.
The scientists additionally name for aquaculture, offshore wind farms, and different new industries to be sited exterior of the whales’ identified habitat, which is proscribed to a strip of water operating alongside the continental shelf break from the japanese by means of the central and western Gulf.
In addition they ask for vessels transiting by means of the whales’ habitat to be required to decelerate and take different measures to cut back the danger of a deadly collision.
The whales relaxation near the ocean floor at night time, the scientists observe, “leaving them acutely susceptible to ship strikes.”
“I’ve seen two useless Gulf of Mexico whales—each had died due to human neglect,” stated Matthew Leslie, Adjunct Professor within the Environmental Research Program at Ursinus School. “We can not let this species go extinct by persevering with enterprise as regular within the Gulf of Mexico.”
Yasmin Dahnoun is assistant editor at The Ecologist. This text is based on an Earth Justice press launch, a nonprofit environmental regulation organisation.