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The Vulnerable Vaquita: Immediate Action Needed to Save Critically Endangered Porpoise

March 08, 2017

The Vulnerable Vaquita: Immediate Action Needed to Save Critically Endangered Porpoise

With technology and social media so prominent, we are seeing and hearing a lot more about the extent of trash and it's effects on the ocean and ocean life.  You may have never heard of the Vaquita, but now front and center on the Critial Endangered Species List, we see this beautiful little creature is under attack.

The Vulnerable Vaquita: Immediate Action Needed to Save Critically Endangered Porpoise

by Carl Safina on nationalgeographic.com 

When most people think of cetaceans, they think of the most iconic species: dolphins and whales. The vaquita—a small gray porpoise with an elusive lifestyle that’s native to Mexico’s Gulf of California—isn’t well known to most people, despite its “Critical” status on the Endangered Species List. But thanks to the efforts of scientists, this vulnerable cetacean is beginning to move into the spotlight, for a serious reason: Without immediate action to protect its population, the vaquita will surely go extinct.


The critically endangered vaquita. Photo by SEMARNAT (Flickr).

Last spring, a group of researchers belonging to the International Committee for the Recovery of the Vaquita (CIRVA) estimated just 60 vaquitas remained in the wild, representing a more than 92 percent population decline since 1997. In November 2016 CIRVA updated its population estimate to 30 vaquitas, an even more dire number.

Mostly, vaquitas are dying as unintentionally captured animals, or “bycatch,” trapped in illegal gillnets fishers use to catch another endangered marine species called the totoaba. The totoaba is an enormous, 300-pound fish. It contains a swim bladder used in Chinese medicine to make a soup called fish maw, which is believed to boost fertility.

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