Most Endangered Whale Gets Protection
"They are still considered an endangered species and that means there is some probability that these animals may go extinct in the foreseeable future"
- Brad Smith, NOAA
Anchorage, Alaska - Thousands of square miles off Alaska have been designated as critical habitat for North Pacific right whales, considered the most endangered whale in the world.
The federal rule published Thursday designates some 36,750 square miles in the Bering Sea and Gulf of Alaska as critical habitat for right whales. The rule takes affect Aug. 7.
At least 11,000 of the slow-moving whales -- prized by commercial whalers for their oil and baleen -- once swam the waters of the North Pacific. The whales were listed as endangered in 1973 and there are now believed to number fewer than 100 in waters near Alaska. A few hundred more may remain closer to Russia.