Target: Angela Somma, Division Chief of the NOAA Office of Protected Resources, Endangered Species Conservation Division
Goal: Protect future generations of a critically endangered whale.
Amazing sea creatures that inspired awesome tales once roamed freely and plentifully in the North Atlantic Ocean. Now these awe-inspiring beings stand at a worldwide level of 450. The right whale, a long-time victim of unrestrained human practices, is on the brink of extinction.
In late February, researchers offered a status update on these vulnerable animals and the results were not promising. Whale sightings off the coast of Georgia and Florida—frequent winter destinations for right whales—remain extremely sparse. More disheartening still, no young calves have been found in the vicinity. The prospects for this population renewing its ranks grow murkier by the day.
The right whale is a sight to behold, spanning up to sixty feet and weighing upwards of 300,000 pounds. Their striking nature unfortunately made them vulnerable to whalers, who craved these animals for their benevolence, their near-to-the-coast swimming patterns, and their high blubber content. While the danger from these hunters abated after the right whale received endangered species protections, trends in global warming have disturbed these animals’ migration patterns and endangered the homes they rely upon for safety and sustenance. Addressing the dangers of global warming remains a work in progress, but the dangers imposed on right whales from other careless human activity can be more immediately rectified.
The National Oceanic Atmospheric Administration and other officials have been proactive in developing guidelines that helped significantly reduce two major dangers to right whales: ship strikes and fishing net entanglements. Critical calving and breeding grounds, however, have not received the needed level of protection. For example, a little over six years ago. the US Navy was granted permission to build an underwater training structure within short distance of one key whale calving area. Since then, a few calving areas have been given critical habitat designation, which helps protect them from some, but not all, human intrusion.
Sight this petition to urge the NOAA to be even more proactive in taking the necessary measures to save one of the world’s great living beings.
Dear Ms. Somma,
Efforts to protect the North Atlantic right whale have proven successful. The 2006 Strategy to Reduce Ship Strikes , the Atlantic Large Whale Take Reduction plan, and breeding ground revitalization efforts all address critical facets in ensuring this species’ continued survival.
We fear, however, that at a time when these animals’ well-being stands at its most precarious tipping point, you have scaled back your protective efforts. The latest reports from researchers indicate the already-sparse right whale population of 450 continues to shrink by the day. New members of this species are nowhere to be found. Rulings such as a 2012 decision to enable naval under-seas training near a calving ground constitute significant steps backward and an affront to conservation efforts.
Habitat loss, net entanglements, overhunting, and ship strikes have stood as some of the driving forces behind these animals becoming endangered. You have addressed several of these dangerous factors but others still need more work. Broadening your critical habitat designations (particularly relating to calving grounds) and leaving no room for loopholes and exceptions to these designations could become the most vital step yet.
Please recommit your resources and your best minds to saving some of the world’s most magnificent creatures from a tragic fate.
[Your Name Here]
Photo Credit: Michael Catanzarit