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Protecting Ocean Giants: Whale Week 2021

February 16, 2021

Join us as we celebrate whales and NOAA's work to conserve and protect these majestic ocean giants.

Blue whale Blue whale. Credit: Christian Miller

Join us as we celebrate Whale Week, February 16–20, 2021, leading up to World Whale Day on February 21, 2021. Check out whale features and videos below and stay tuned for more new content throughout the week!

Whale Features

Celebrate Whale Week with Us

A message from Donna Wieting, Director of NOAA Fisheries Office of Protected Resources. To celebrate the wonder of whales, learn how our scientists and managers work to conserve and protect these magnificent creatures. 

Read the new leadership message all about whales from Donna Wieting, Director of NOAA Fisheries Office of Protected Resources

A right whale breaches
A right whale breaches.

11 Cool Things about Whales (Plus Dolphins and Porpoises!)

Whales, dolphins, and porpoises belong to a group of marine mammals called cetaceans. NOAA Fisheries works to ensure the conservation of all cetaceans, which are protected under the Marine Mammal Protection Act.

Check out cool facts about these marine mammals 

Humpback whale diving with tail fluke above the water; mountains in the distance.
Humpback whale fluke rising above the waves. Credit: Christian Miller. 

New Species of Baleen Whale in the Gulf of Mexico

NOAA Fisheries announces scientific research paper that describes a new species of baleen whale in the Gulf of Mexico.

Learn more about the new species

Surfacing Rice's whale.

Species in the Spotlight

Some whale populations, such as the Cook Inlet belugaNorth Atlantic right whale, and Southern Resident killer whale have been identified as Species in the Spotlight due to their endangered status and declining populations. We work with many partners to protect and recover species listed under the Endangered Species Act

As “Killer Whale Tales” Goes Virtual, its Reach Extends Around the World

A former teacher engages students with the wonder of the Southern Resident killer whales.

Learn more about "Killer Whale Tales"

Jeff Hogan hold a post showing identifying features of killer whales
Jeff Hogan of Killer Whale Tales shares details of Southern Resident and other types of killer whales with students. Photo courtesy Killer Whale Tales

North Atlantic Right Whale Calving Season 2021

The critically endangered North Atlantic right whale population has been declining for the past decade. With fewer than 400 whales left, researchers closely monitor the southeastern United States for new offspring during the calving season.

Meet the mothers and calves of the 2021 season

North Atlantic right whale #3720 and calf
Clearwater Marine Aquarium Research Institute, taken under NOAA permit #20556-01

Help Endangered Whales: Slow Down in Slow Zones

All boaters can help save right whales by slowing down in Right Whale Slow Zones.

Learn how you can help endangered whales

WEbstory opening pic slow zones_2.jpg

10 Things about North Atlantic Right Whales

Learn more about North Atlantic right whales


New Genetic Study Makes it Possible to Accurately Estimate Age of Endangered Whale While it is Alive

Preliminary results raise questions about whether Cook Inlet beluga whales are reproducing much later than initially thought.

Learn more about the new genetic study

Aerial photo of two Cook Inlet Beluga Whales swimming at the surface.

Studying Endangered Cook Inlet Beluga Whales in Alaska

Cook Inlet beluga whales are one of five beluga population stocks found in U.S. waters. They are the only beluga population listed under the Endangered Species Act.

Learn more about how we study endangered Cook Inlet beluga whales in Alaska


Whale Videos

Species in the Spotlight: North Atlantic Right Whale

Facing a variety of man-made threats, North Atlantic right whales were listed under the Endangered Species Act in 1970. Once the right whale to hunt, these giants are now the right whales to save.

Species in the Spotlight: Southern Resident Killer Whale

Species in the Spotlight: Cook Inlet Beluga Whale

There are five populations of beluga whales in Alaska, but only the Cook Inlet population is endangered. This video spotlights the different research projects underway to help recover this species, and how you can help.

Slow Zones for Right Whales

North Atlantic right whales are one of the most endangered large whale species. Collisions with vessels are one of the major threats these animals face. NOAA has announced Right Whale Slow Zones to help reduce the risk of vessel strikes.

Whale Recovery in Alaska

Learn more about the science behind whale recovery in Alaska. See how NOAA scientists use photo identification and study humpback whale diets to better understand the population.

Using Aerial Technology to Help Stranded Cook Inlet Beluga Whales

This video highlights imagery captured during one of the unmanned aircraft system (UAS) flights to two belugas, which likely became stranded in the mudflats during low tide when the waters of Turnagain Arm were too shallow for them to swim away.

Belugas Count!

To bring awareness to the plight of the critically endangered Cook Inlet beluga whale and foster local pride, awareness, and stewardship, Alaska Department of Fish and Game teamed with partners NOAA Fisheries, Defenders of Wildlife, Alaska Wildlife Alliance, Friends of the Anchorage Coastal Wildlife Refuge, and Beluga Whale Alliance to create a Belugas Count! animated short.

Understanding Threats to Whales

Marine Mammal Unusual Mortality Events

To understand the health of marine mammal populations, scientists study unusual mortality events. Investigating these events is important because they can serve as indicators of overall ocean health.

Learn more about marine mammal unusual mortality events

Graph of MMUME events 1991-2020
Graph showing marine mammal unusual mortality events from 1991-2020.

Humpback Whale Disentangled Off New York All Thanks to a Team Effort

NOAA Fisheries was notified by the U.S Coast Guard of distressed humpback whale in the Ambrose Channel of New York on Monday, July 27. The team successfully disentangled the whale on July 30 ending a multi-day response.

Learn more about the humpback whale disentanglement 

The CCS Disentanglement team adds buoys to add buoyancy to the gear, while they assess how to remove the entangling material from the whale. Credit: AMSEAS

NOAA Enforcement Deploys Remotely Operated Vehicles to Patrol the Seas

NOAA’s Office of Law Enforcement is increasing efforts to help ensure compliance with gear regulations in the Northeast/Mid-Atlantic American Lobster Trap/Pot Fishery. OLE is deploying remotely operated vehicles that will make inspecting offshore lobster gear more efficient.

Learn more about the ROVs

OLE enforcement officers use a remotely operated vehicle to inspect offshore lobster gear.
OLE enforcement officers are now using remotely operated vehicle to inspect offshore lobster gear.

Sans Tourists, Juneau Scientists Partner to Capture Data on Humpback Whales

Research aims to gather baseline information on whale behavior and biology in absence of vessels.

Learn more about capturing data on humpback whales

Scientists observing humpback whales from a research vessel in Alaskan waters.
Scientists observe humpback whales in Alaska.

Give Whales Bubble Room in Alaska

Humpback whales use a feeding technique called bubble net feeding to catch their prey (mainly krill) at the surface. In Alaska, humpback whales are protected by federal regulations that prohibit approaches within 100 yards and vessel operations that may cause take. When viewing humpback whales from a boat, it is important to make sure that your presence does not affect their behavior.

Learn more about giving whales proper space

Humpback whales bubble net feeding in Southeast Alaska.
Humpback whales bubble net feeding in Southeast Alaska. NMFS Permit #14296.

New Online Course for Spotting and Reporting Entangled Whales in Alaska Waters

The foundation of responding to entangled whales is the on-water community. NOAA’s Alaska Marine Mammal Stranding Network depends on recreational and commercial boaters and other ocean users for spotting and reporting entangled whales off Alaska’s coast. That’s one reason NOAA Fisheries has teamed up with The Nature Conservancy (TNC) to develop a new online training course to help them report entanglements.

Learn more about this online course

man on raft reaches to cut a line entangling a humpback whale
NOAA Fisheries' John Moran reaches with a pole to cut a line entangling a humpback whale in Dutch Harbor, Alaska. Oct. 17, 2018.

Last updated by Office of Communications on February 07, 2023