Saturday, 22 May 2010

Vaquita: Will a Tiny Porpoise Be the Next Endangered Species to Go? - TakePart

"With the arrival of Endangered Species Day, it’s time to shed some light on a startling reality: the world’s most critically endangered marine mammal is a species you’ve never heard of that lives just a day's drive south of the U.S. border."

photo credit TakePart via Chris Johnson

The poor little vaquita. It's a tiny little porpoise that lives in the Gulf of California near Baja. It's cute, it's shy, its name translates to "little cow" (aww!) and it's being killed in gillnets at an alarming rate. Today, only about 200 individuals remain. Because of its elusiveness, the only photos that have been available (until recently) are of dead vaquitas in gillnets.

"Without images like those showing dolphins and whales swimming in—and leaping out of—clear waters, it’s been hard to build an awareness campaign around the vaquita...With that scenario, researchers and conservationists worry that the vaquita will go the way of the baiji, or Yangtze River dolphin, a large species that was declared extinct in 2006 amid chaotic efforts to save it."

But there is good news: "“Basically we don’t have any reason to believe that if we stopped killing them in fishing nets, that the population wouldn’t be able to recover,” says Barbara Taylor, a vaquita expert and conservation biologist with the National Marine Fisheries Service"(NMFS).

The Mexican government has invested $25 million in vaquita conservation, most of it going to research funding and efforts to end the use of gillnets.

Full article here (TakePart)

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