Reroute Commercial Vessels Out of Whale ‘Hotspots’


Target: U.S. Chief of Naval Operations Admiral Jonathan Greenert

Goal: Urge the U.S. Navy to allow commercial shipping routes through naval testing sites so as to avoid striking local blue whale populations

Before heavy whaling began in the early 1900s, there were an estimated 4,900 blue whales in the North Pacific. Today, that number floats around 2,500. Heavy whaling in the early 1900s led to the decimation of the ocean mammal, but after the 1966 protections enacted by the International Whaling Commission, their numbers were expected to increase much more rapidly than they actually have. A new study conducted by PLOS One sites strikes from commercial shipping vessels as a likely cause of this slow recovery.

The study used satellite tags to track blue whale populations along the California coast and found that many blue whale “hotspots” were directly intersected by heavily trafficked commercial routes. There are speed-governing regulations in place as well as observation systems to alert ships of possible collisions before they can occur. However, five deaths in the area in 2007 alone—three confirmed vessel collisions, two inconclusive—were enough to worry the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), which declared the deaths “unusual mortality events”.

The solution outlined in the PLOS One study is simple: reroute commercial vessels to areas less heavily populated by blue whales. Unfortunately, the new proposed routes would cross U.S. Navy testing sites, meaning the routes would have to be approved by the shipping companies, the U.S. Navy, marine wildlife experts, and stakeholders.

Add your name to this petition and urge the U.S. Navy to permit the relocation of commercial routes in navy testing zones so as to help save the North Pacific’s threatened blue whale population.


Dear Admiral Greenert,

The blue whale’s depleted numbers are suffering a much slower recovery than originally anticipated when protections for them were put in place in 1966. A recent PLOS One study shed light on this unexpected stunt, finding that commercial vessels are extremely harmful to the whales. The shipping routes of commercial vessels of the California cost threaten North Pacific blue whale populations, as they run directly through blue whale hotspots, striking and often killing the animals.

These injuries and deaths could be largely avoided if the shipping routes for commercial vessels were relocated to an area less often inhabited by whales. The new proposed routes, however, would pass through naval testing sites.

I urge you to allow the relocation of commercial shipping routes through naval-controlled areas to protect threatened marine wildlife needlessly.


[Your Name Here]

Photo credit: Dr. Haus via Wikimedia Commons

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258 Signatures

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