Center for Biological Diversity

For Immediate Release, October 11, 2017

Contact: Abel Valdivia, (510) 844-7103,

Endangered Species Act Protection Sought for Gulf of Mexico Cuvier's Beaked Whales

Only 74 Remain in Gulf of Mexico

WASHINGTON— The Center for Biological Diversity today petitioned the federal government to protect Cuvier’s beaked whales in the Gulf of Mexico under the Endangered Species Act. Only 74 of these whales remain, and they prefer deep waters along the continental slope and canyons of the northern Gulf of Mexico.

“This small population of whales faces extinction without our help. Heavy industrialization in the Gulf has taken a devastating toll on these majestic creatures,” said Abel Valdivia, an ocean scientist at the Center who filed the petition. “Cuvier’s beaked whales are champion divers able to dive nearly 10,000 feet deep and hold their breath for more than two hours. But they’re incredibly vulnerable and need protection.”

Cuvier’s beaked whales’ incredible diving ability makes them vulnerable to the bends — decompression sickness that scuba divers may suffer from surfacing too quickly —  when they are startled by loud noises in deep waters. Thus high-intensity noise from seismic air guns used to search for oil and military sonar puts these small whales at risk of stranding. Other threats to their survival include vessel strikes, entanglement in fishing gear, water pollution and climate change.

Although other populations of Cuvier’s beaked whales exist in the Western Atlantic and other oceans, the unique and distinct population in the Northern Gulf of Mexico is isolated and will continue to decline unless it is protected. The Endangered Species Act can provide an important safety net for Cuvier’s beaked whales. The Act has been successful in preventing the extinction of 99 percent of listed species.

“Endangered species protection is critical to safeguard Cuvier’s beaked whales from extinction,” Valdivia said. “We need to protect Cuvier’s beaked whales from ongoing threats if they are to remain part of the Gulf of Mexico ecosystems.” 

The Center for Biological Diversity is a national, nonprofit conservation organization with more than 1.5 million members and online activists dedicated to the protection of endangered species and wild places.

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