Under the definition of “in harm’s way,” there should be a photo of the Gulf of Mexico Bryde’s (pronounced BROO-dus) whale.
This forty-foot whale—cousin to blues and humpbacks, and the only great whale known to reside in the Gulf—is in desperate straits. The population numbers fewer than 50 individuals according to the government’s best estimates, and its range appears to have contracted to the baleen whale equivalent of a postage stamp: to a single underwater canyon off the Florida panhandle.
Last July, NOAA biologists published a study confirming that the Gulf Bryde’s have a unique evolutionary lineage, distinct from all others of their kind. On Thursday my colleagues and I at the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) petitioned the administration to add them to the endangered species list.
Clearly the whales are in need of special protection, and not simply for their small numbers. The massive industrialization...