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Critical Habitat

Once a species is listed under the Endangered Species Act, NOAA Fisheries evaluates and identifies whether any areas meet the definition of critical habitat. Those areas may be designated as critical habitat through a rulemaking process.

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NorthPacificrightwhale_smudgy.jpg North Pacific right whale #87 also known as “Smudgy” interacts with a log floating on the water. There are only around 30 individuals in the eastern population, so to spot a North Pacific right whale is rare and to see one interacting with a log in a once-in-a-lifetime experience. NOAA Fisheries permit 782-1719.
 Southern Resident killer whales encountered during NOAA's PODs (Pacific Orcinus Distribution Survey) in October 2021 Southern Resident killer whales encountered during NOAA's PODs (Pacific Orcinus Distribution Survey) in October 2021 near the west end of the Strait of Juan de Fuca. Credit: NOAA Fisheries