Proposed whale sanctuary area for humpback whales


There is another whale of concern in the waters of the west coast: the humpback whale.

Federal oceans officials are now proposing critical habitat for three populations of humpback whales to make the Washington waters they visit safer and calmer.

People can spot the large black-striped humpback whales that migrate along the west coast during the summer. Humpback whales travel great distances during their seasonal migration, according to NOAA, with some animals migrating 5,000 miles between summer feeding grounds in high latitudes and winter mating grounds in tropical waters.

But NOAA, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, says some are in trouble. Four of the world’s 14 humpback whale populations are listed as threatened or endangered at the federal level, mainly due to collisions with boats, fishing gear and some regional issues like whaling.

Three of the struggling populations visit the waters of the west coast.

“There are different populations of humpback whales and some of them are threatened and endangered,” NOAA spokesman Michael Milstein said. “Here we take about three particular populations of humpback whales.”

This includes one who visits Washington waters from Central America, one from Mexico, and a Hawaiian population that spends their summers near Alaska and British Columbia.

NOAA will hold five public hearings on whether to add nearly 80,000 nautical square miles of protected habitat for humpback whales. This range would extend from Alaska to California and overlap with the proposed critical habitat for killer whales.

The Endangered Species Act defines critical habitat as “those specific areas of the geographic area occupied by the species … on which are found the physical or biological features (I) essential for the conservation of the species and ( II) which may require management considerations or protections.

A public hearing is held in Seattle on November 6.


Leave A Reply