Coast Guard officers were conducting a routine patrol in the Gulf of Mexico when they spotted something strange.
The officers from the U.S. Coast Guard Station Venice were on a Living Marine Resource patrol — which seeks to protect fish and marine resources — near the Mississippi Canyon, a spokesperson told McClatchy News. That’s when they saw what appeared to be a pile of debris floating in the water.
As the officers got closer though, they realized they had discovered something much more rare: It was three 25-foot Rice’s whales.
Officials shared a video of one of the “critically endangered” creatures swimming through the water in a Sept. 24 Facebook post.
The whales were spotted roughly 30 miles south of the SouthWest Pass, which is south of New Orleans.
Rice’s whales are a type of baleen whale and are considered one of the most endangered whales in the world, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. Experts estimate there are fewer than 100 individuals left.
The whales live in the Gulf of Mexico and can grow up to 60,000 pounds and 41 feet long, the administration said.
The Coast Guard sighting comes nearly two months after Texas anglers spotted a Rice’s whale.
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