Sperm whales are family creatures. The endangered whales travel in pods with their relatives and spend years raising their young. But the time they spend carefully raising each child means that it will take a very long time for these creatures to replenish their numbers and rise out of endangered status.
And while we wait for their numbers to grow, healthy sperm whales are having their lives cut short by drift gillnets off the coast of California. Drift gillnets are mile-long walls of nets that are left out in ocean waters overnight to catch swordfish and thresher sharks. But these nets also catch these endangered whales. We need your help to save them.
Southern California’s deep waters are home to an abundance of squid—a sperm whale’s favorite snack. And while pods of whales are swimming in these squid-rich waters, they may find themselves facing a wall of nets.
In 2010, the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) estimated that 16 sperm whales became entangled in drift gillnets off of Southern California. For Pacific sperm whales, which take so long to give birth and which have such a small population, those 16 whales were irreplaceable. If we continue to allow drift gillnets to kill these whales, their future is at risk.
Sperm whales can grow to over 50 feet long and weigh 40 tons. You would think these massive creatures would not have much to fear, but a mile-long net wrapped around their fins or tail can keep them from swimming, cause lethal injury, and even trap them underwater. A sperm whale can hold its breath for a long time, but if it’s held underwater overnight in a drift gillnet, it will drown.
It’s time to stop this practice. Oceana is working to convince NMFS and the state of California to phase out this deadly gear type and replace it with cleaner gears, but we need help to keep up the fight.
Give by May 15 to help us protect endangered whales and the world’s oceans»
Your support will help us fund our work to protect ocean ecosystems off the California coast and across the globe. Our work has resulted in great victories in these waters—from establishing a protected area for leatherback sea turtles to stopping an expansion of these deadly drift gillnets—and now it’s time for us to continue the fight and end drift gillnetting in California altogether.
Thanks for all that you do.
For the oceans,