Whale Week Highlights: A Message from Kim Damon-Randall, Director of NOAA Fisheries Office of Protected Resources

By fisheries.noaa.gov.

Welcome to Whale Week 2024! Whales share many similarities to humans. Like us, they have social interactions, care for their young, and several species can sing. They can live for more than 100 years. Dive in with us to explore the wonders of more than 30 whale species in U.S and territorial waters. We will also explore our conservation efforts, along with our partners, to recover endangered and threatened whale species.

This year, for Whale Week, we’re delving into whale recovery across the nation, the role whales play in the carbon cycle, and how you can responsibly watch whales through the Whale SENSE partnership. Stay tuned for new exciting content, and join us in celebrating wonderful whales during Whale Week February 12–18, 2024!

Climate Change Threats

Two endangered eastern North Pacific right whales sighted near Kodiak Island in August 2021 during the Pacific Marine Assessment Program for Protected Species survey. Credit: NOAA Fisheries (NOAA permit #20465)
Last year was the planet’s warmest year on record—by far. Climate change is here. Species and ecosystems are impacted by warming temperatures, shifting habitats, extreme weather events, and other climate change impacts. Climate change brings big risks to whales

North Pacific right whales are one of the rarest large whale species, with an estimated 30 individuals in the eastern population. Climate change is one of the most significant threats facing their northernmost habitat in the Pacific. North Pacific right whales feed on zooplankton, but sea ice coverage determines where and when zooplankton can be found. Warming ocean temperatures result in the loss of sea ice, impacting zooplankton distribution and availability. Impacts to prey could affect the foraging behavior and success of North Pacific right whales leading to nutritional stress and diminished reproduction.

Rice’s Whale Highlights

Rice’s whale photographed using an uncrewed aircraft system. Credit: NOAA Fisheries (NOAA permit #21938)
In December 2023, we announced Rice’s whale as the newest Species in the Spotlight. This designation will bring greater attention and marshal resources to conserve this endangered species.

read more at fisheries.noaa.gov.