Thursday May 2, 2024

NOAA Fisheries

On April 11, 2024, NOAA Fisheries scientists observed two endangered Rice’s whales in the western Gulf of Mexico. There are likely fewer than 100 Rice’s whales in the Gulf of Mexico, the only area where the species is known to occur. 

The whales were observed 55 nautical miles off the coast of Corpus Christi, Texas. The three characteristic ridges on their rostra (in front of their blowhole) were clearly visible and allowed the team to confirm they were Rice’s whales. The whales were observed at the ocean surface, and were diving within a small area. They were in an area where the water was approximately 224 meters deep. 

In addition to a confirmed sighting in 2017, this event reinforces findings from acoustic monitoring that Rice’s whales occur in waters near Texas. In fact, the whales were observed 4.8 nautical miles from one of these passive acoustic monitoring instruments. 

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