Action timeline

February 22, 2000 – The Center filed a petition to designate 26.5 million acres as critical habitat for the Bering-Chukchi-Beaufort stock of bowhead whales.

May 22, 2001 – In response to the Center's petition, the Fisheries Service published a positive initial decision on our 200 petition, moving the bowhead's habitat closer to protection.

August 30, 2002 – The National Marine Fisheries Service denied critical habitat designation for the bowhead whale.

July 20, 2007 – The Center filed a lawsuit to block oil leasing in important bowhead habitat in the Beaufort, Chukchi, and Bering seas.

August 15, 2007 – A coalition of six organizations, including the Center, blocked Shell Oil from initiating offshore oil exploration in coastal waters near the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge until a court decides whether potential environmental impacts have been given full consideration. The area is important to a number of threatened and endangered species, including the bowhead whale.

August 4, 2011 –The Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, Regulation and Enforcement approved a plan by Shell Oil to start drilling for oil in the Beaufort Sea in summer 2012 — threatening the bowhead whale, polar bear and other Arctic animals.

Photo by Rick LeDuc, NOAA