“Today, one of the United States’ rarest and most threatened baleen whales are a step closer to receiving protection under the Endangered Species Act.
A little over 60 miles from the Florida panhandle, in the northeastern ‘corner’ of the Gulf of Mexico, lies the deep and unusually ‘S-shaped’ DeSoto Canyon that is home to the last individuals of a unique group of Bryde’s whales.
Named after the 19th Century Norwegian whaler, John Bryde (pronounced “BROO-dus”), Bryde’s whales are found in warm seas around the world, growing to 55 feet long and 90,000 pounds as they filter out plankton, crustaceans, and small fish using their large baleen plates.
The Gulf of Mexico whales are highly distinctive from other Bryde’s whales, however. They differ in size, communicate using unique calls, and genetic tests have confirmed they represent a genetically separate subspecies. Gulf of Mexico Bryde’s whales are also distinctive in one other sense: a recent stock assessment estimated that only 33 animals remain, making them one of the most endangered species or subspecies of whale on the planet.”