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NOAA Reports Whale sightings in our area of the Gulf of Mexico


NOAA Fisheries graphic showing the habitat of Rice's Whale along the Gulf Coast

We have some exciting news from NOAA. Sightings of the highly endangered Rice's whale, a newly identified species that inhabit the northeastern Gulf of Mexico have increased. We first encountered them alongside the dive boat in the winter of 2009. The gentle giant swam by and surfaced next to us. Truly an amazing experience.

Appearance

Rice's whales, like Bryde’s whales, are smaller than sei whales. Unlike other rorquals, which have a single ridge on their rostrum, Bryde’s and Rice’s whales have three prominent ridges in front of their blowhole, though this feature can be difficult to observe at sea. Their body is sleek, and their pectoral fins are slender and pointed. Rice's whales are uniformly dark gray on top with a pale to pink belly. The head of a Rice's whale makes up about one quarter of its entire body length. The whale has a broad fluke, or tail, and a pointed and strongly hooked dorsal fin located about two-thirds of the way back on its body.


A Rice's Whale near the surface of the ocean

Like other baleen whales, Rice’s whales and Bryde’s whales engulf large amounts of water and strain it through baleen plates that hang inside their mouths to catch their prey. They have throat grooves that expand while feeding to increase the amount of seawater, and therefore prey, that they can engulf.

Vessels can kill or injure whales - please use slow speeds and be prepared to avoid surfacing whales. To report sightings call 1-877-WHALE-HELP. 

For more info on Rice's Whales click here.

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