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NOAA Fisheries research publication characterizes Rice's whale habitat in the Gulf of Mexico

by NOAA Fisheries 13 May 14:14 UTC
Predicted average Rice's whale density (whales/cell) for years 2015-2019 (Garrison et al. 2024) © NOAA Fisheries

NOAA Fisheries published research findings in Endangered Species Research that characterize the habitat of endangered Rice's whales based on oceanographic parameters such as depth, temperature, salinity, and chlorophyll-a concentration.

The study indicates that Rice's whale habitat is primarily along the outer edge of the continental shelf around the Gulf of Mexico, where productive oceanographic conditions may support optimal feeding habitat for the whales.

In addition to the known core habitat in the northeastern Gulf of Mexico, NOAA Fisheries determined other areas in the western and southern Gulf of Mexico to be suitable habitat for Rice's whales. These findings will further inform the identification of Rice's whale critical habitat, as defined under the U.S. Endangered Species Act.

The Rice's whale, previously known as the Gulf of Mexico Bryde's whale, is listed as an endangered species under the Endangered Species Act and is considered depleted under the Marine Mammal Protection Act.

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