Endangered Species Day is a celebration of the nation’s wildlife and wild places and is an opportunity for people of all ages to learn about the importance of protecting endangered species. Started in 2006 by the United States Congress, Endangered Species Day occurs on the 3rd Friday of May to inspire people to take action in their everyday lives to help protect endangered species.
At Pacific Whale Foundation we research two endangered species: humpback whales and false killer whales.
A mother and calf pair of humpback whales
A large pod of humpback whales surfacing together
The injury on this humpback whale’s back was caused by a collision with a vessel.
Humpback whale underwater
A pod of false killer whales seen in Maui
As with many endangered species, both humpback whales and false killer whales are endangered due to human activities. The North Pacific population of humpback whales was hunted until only a few hundred individuals remained. Although their population has recovered immensely—recent estimates suggest approximately 20,000 humpbacks in the North Pacific—they and other large whale species are still at risk of vessel collisions and entanglement in fishing gear. Our current research on humpback whales aims to reduce the risk of these collisions by determining which factors contribute to detectability of the whales.
The major threat for false killer whales is entanglement in longline fishing gear. False killer whales prey on economically important pelagic fish such as mahi and tuna. Unfortunately, this results in frequent interactions with fishing gear that lead to entanglement injuries and bycatch events. Research on false killer whales at Pacific Whale Foundation focuses on abundance, distribution and social structure, allowing us to better manage and conserve this species.
For Endangered Species Day 2016, try incorporating these actions into your daily routine:
Seafood Watch app
Make purchasing choices to protect endangered species:
Opt for biodegradable packaging instead of plastics and other synthetic materials that contribute to the growing problem of persistent marine debris. Use the Seafood Watch app from Monterey Bay Aquarium to choose fish that are caught in ways that protect endangered species from threats such as entanglement and bycatch.
Visit a national wildlife refuge, park, or sanctuary:
One of the best ways to conserve endangered species is to conserve the places that they call home. National wildlife refuges, parks, and sanctuaries are often designated because they provide crucial habitat for endangered species. Whether it’s watching humpback whales within the Hawaiian Islands Humpback Whale National Marine Sanctuary or trying to catch a glimpse of a manatee in Everglades National Park, visiting and supporting these protected areas goes a long way toward the conservation of these species.
Support experiences that respect wildlife and their habitats:
For your summer vacation, choose activities that respect wildlife and natural areas. Look for certified ecotourism companies with a focus on conservation and responsible management of endangered species. For example, Pacific Whale Foundation is a certified sustainable tour operator with science, advocacy, and conservation at the core of its mission.
Adopt an Endangered Species:
Several organizations offer the opportunity to adopt different endangered species. Adoptions are a great way to support conservation efforts while getting to know the life history of individual animals. At Pacific Whale Foundation, you can adopt your very own humpback whale or false killer whale to help our researchers learn more about these species. We offer multiple levels of adoption packages, but all include an adoption certificate, sightings history, and sightings map of your whale.
Three individuals from a pod of false killer whales, including a calf (left)