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By Jennifer Weeks

The Trump administration has announced rule changes that alter how it will enforce the 1973 Endangered Species Act, which protects threatened and endangered species and their habitats. Among these changes, officials can now consider potential costs in deciding whether to list a species. The new policies will make it easier to delist species, and are likely to shrink areas set aside as critical habitat to help species recover.

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Pacific Northwest orca with Mount Baker in the background near the Strait of Georgia off the coast of Vancouver, British Columbia. Sergio Amiti / Moment / Getty Images

The extremely endangered population of Southern Resident killer whales off the coast of Washington and British Columbia fell to 73 after 3 orcas went missing, the Center for Whale Research said in a statement.

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EcoWatch Daily Newsletter

Beachgoers enjoying a pleasant evening on Georgia's St. Simons Island rushed into the water, despite warnings of sharks, to rescue dozens of short-finned pilot whales that washed ashore on Tuesday evening, according to the New York Times.

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Right whale and calf off Amelia Island, FL on Jan. 7, 2019. Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission

Researchers are calling for urgent action following the death of a sixth North Atlantic right whale in Canada's Gulf of St. Lawrence this year.

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A sei whale, considered endangered by the IUCN; sei are one of three species that will be hunted commercially in Japan starting today. Gerard Soury / Getty Images

Commercial whaling ships set sail from Japan Monday for the first time in more than 30 years, The Guardian reported.

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Skull morphology of hybrid "narluga" whale. Nature / Mikkel Høegh Post

In the 1980s, a Greenlandic subsistence hunter shot and killed a whale with bizarre features unlike any he had ever seen before. He knew something was unique about it, so he left its abnormally large skull on top of his toolshed where it rested until a visiting professor happened upon it a few years later.

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An orca jumps out of the sea in Lund, British Columbia. Schaef1 / iStock / Getty Images Plus

By the end of June, it will be illegal to keep whales and dolphins in captivity in Canada, the Huffington Post reported Tuesday.

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Southern resident killer whales off Vancouver Island, BC. MarkMalleson / iStock / Getty Images

A second baby orca has been born to the imperiled southern resident killer whales in less than six months.

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Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission / NOAA Research Permit # 594-1759

Many fish, marine mammals and seabirds that inhabit the world's oceans are critically endangered, but few are as close to the brink as the North Atlantic right whale ( Eubalaena glacialis). Only about 411 of these whales exist today, and at their current rate of decline, they could become extinct within our lifetimes.

From 1980 through about 2010, conservation efforts focused mainly on protecting whales from being struck by ships. Federal regulations helped reduce vessel collisions and supported a slight rebound in right whale numbers.

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A dead gray whale was found beached at San Francisco's Ocean Beach on Tuesday. Justin Sullivan / Getty Images

A gray whale washed up dead on a San Francisco beach Monday morning, CNN reported, making the mammal the ninth to be found dead in the Bay Area this year.

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EgNo 4180 and her 2019 calf photographed by the CCS aerial survey team in Cape Cod Bay on April 11. CCS image, NOAA permit 19315-1

One of the rarest species of whale in the world is experiencing a mini-baby boom off the coast of New England, lending hope to the survival of the once-imperiled population.

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