BEACON TRANSCRIPT – More and more species get closer to extinction every year. One of them is the vaquita porpoise. A report published last year showed that the numbers of vaquitas dropped by 92 percent since 1997.
Now, there are only 30 vaquita porpoises left in the world. They are also called “the pandas of the sea” because of the distinctive rings around their eyes. They are not big animals, usually measuring around 1.4 meters long.
The only vaquita population left lives in the Gulf of California, the most important fishing spot for Mexico. Last year report also warned Mexico to regulate their fishing or the species would disappear until 2022.
Unfortunately, the news is not good. Despite the active efforts of the Mexican government to reduce fishing and stop the use of illegal nets, the population halved again after nine months, as stated by a report of the International Committee for the Recovery of the Vaquita (CIRVA).
Extreme measures were taken even back in 2015. The Mexican president Enrique Pena Nieto took measures against illegal fishing, widened the protection area for the vaquita, and banned gill nets for two years. However, these measures were not enough to stop illegal fishing.
Only humans are to blame for the imminent extinction of the vaquita, since it has no natural predators. The Gulf of California is well-known for illegal fishing. Fishermen use gill nets to catch the totoaba fish, which can bring them a lot of profit. Their bladder is very popular in China because it is believed it has medicinal properties.
Scientists are extremely concerned about the vaquita population and are seeking the officials’ help to start a conservation program. They need the government approval to catch a few specimens and put them in a safe place where they can reproduce. This might work, since other endangered animal populations were restored thanks to such conservation efforts.
However, such actions may not be the most suitable. Catching and housing vaquitas may be difficult, and this solution might not work for the species. Some members of the CIRVA do not agree with this attempt, considering it risky and full of unknown elements.
When scientists discovered that the baiji dolphin went extinct in 2007, vaquitas remained the most endangered marine species, but we should not forget of other threatened animals. Let’s protect the vaquita together with the Indus river dolphin, the gray whale, the Mediterranean monk seal, and the Saimaa ringed seal.
Image Source: Wikimedia Commons