Final Rule to List Rice's Whale in the Gulf of Mexico Under the ESA
On April 15, 2019, NOAA Fisheries issued a final rule to list the Gulf of Mexico Bryde’s whale (Balaenoptera edeni)as an endangered subspecies under the Endangered Species Act (ESA). On August 23, 2021, we issued a direct final rule to revise the common and scientific name of the Gulf of Mexico Bryde’s whale to Rice’s whale, Balaneoptera ricei, and classification to species to reflect the scientifically accepted taxonomy and nomenclature of the whales.
We completed a status review of the Rice’s whale (previously known as the Gulf of Mexico Bryde’s whale), and after reviewing the best scientific and commercial data available, including the status review and comments received on the proposed rule, determined that it warranted listing as endangered. The Rice’s whale is presently in danger of extinction (i.e., meets the definition of endangered) throughout all of its range due to its small population size and restricted range, and the threats of energy exploration, development and production, oil spills and oil spill response, vessel collision, fishing gear entanglement, and anthropogenic noise.