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The vaquita is the most endangered cetacean in the world. “There is only the tiniest sliver of hope remaining for the vaquita,” Kate O’Connell, a marine wildlife consultant with the Animal Welfare Institute (AWI), said in a statement. Fishing nets have brought these little porpoises to the brink of extinction. A survey released earlier this year estimated the vaquita population was as low as 30 individuals. Only 12 vaquita marina porpoises remain in the Gulf of California, according to the director of the environmental organization Elephant Action League (EAL). Vaquitas drown when they get caught in the huge gillnets used for commercial fishing and canât get to the surface to breathe air. I have written science articles about animals for The Salt Lake Tribune and Seven Days. People tried to catch two in 2017 to bring them into captivity with the goal of conserving them, but the plan went wrong. “One of Earth’s most incredible creatures is about to be wiped off the planet forever,” Sarah Uhlemann, an attorney and the international program director at the Center for Biological Diversity, said in the AWI statement. Answer. Many scientists and conservationists applauded the move. Vaquitas live only in the upper parts of Mexico’s Sea of Cortez, also known as the Gulf of California, and they’re the world’s smallest member of the order of animals called cetaceans that includes whales, dolphins and other porpoises. 5 6 7. The vaquita, a tiny marine mammal found in the Gulf of California, is almost extinct. Our biweekly podcast delivering news & inspiration from nature’s frontline. On March 13, scientists announced that around 10 vaquitas (Phocoena sinus) are left on Earth, just as the environmental group Sea Shepherd said it had found one of the porpoises that had drowned in a gillnet that was probably set to catch a totoaba fish. This crossfire leaves two great collateral victims: the vaquita marina, close to its imminent extinction; and the fishing village of San Felipe, which is running out of inhabitants. Oil and Gas Development. Q: How long is the vaquita at birth? “When (vaquitas) get caught in a net and held underwater, they drown, like a person would,” said Jefferson. In 2016, the Mexican government outlawed the use of gillnets for most fisheries in the upper Gulf of California. They live in the Gulf of California surrounded by austere mountains and hot deserts. Estimates from abundance surveys in the Gulf of California, the vaquita's only habitat, indicate that fewer than 100 and possibly only about 30 animals are remain in the wild. save them! There are only between six and 19 vaquitas left, a new study has concluded, and, unless swift action is taken, the endangered species could go extinct within a year. I'd like to help cover the transaction fees of 0 for my donation. Downloaded on 17 March 2019. “The only activities that can truly move the needle are investigation and intelligence collection.”. I’m a science contributor writing about animals for Forbes.com. During college, I researched child development through the Yale Infant Cognition Center, edited the city section of the Yale Daily News and studied Chinese. How many vaquitas are left? The vaquita is the rarest marine mammal in the world, and critically endangered, according to the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN). In spite of their conclusions, CIRVA’s scientists say they still believe vaquitas can recover, as they’re still having calves. An all time low for the porpoise, the population is half of what it was just the year before. Tom Jefferson, Director of VIVA Vaquita, said the vaquita’s entire habitat is a speck on the globe smaller than Los Angeles. The “nets of death” are efficient — but not targeted — killers, said Taylor. http://dx.doi.org/10.2305/IUCN.UK.2017-2.RLTS.T17028A50370296.en. With as few as around 10 left, the species will become extinct without a fully enforced gillnet ban throughout their entire habitat. The latest estimates are that only ten remain. I currently work as a local reporter in the Bay Area. Of particular concern to vaquita is totoaba poaching. Last year, experts determined there were only 30 vaquitas left. How many Vaquita dolphins are left in the worled? Our EIN or tax ID is 45-3714703. We depend on support from users like you. I was raised in Utah with five siblings and numerous cats, dogs, horses, goats, chickens and other rescue pets. Gillnets are used in the gulf to catch a variety of animals, including shrimp. Jefferson said one of the vaquita died and the other one was released soon after. “The organized criminal networks trafficking totoaba swim bladders from Mexico to China are responsible for the illegal fishing nets driving the vaquita to extinction,” Perry said in the statement from AWI. You may republish Mongabay content in your publication at no cost, Alleged gov’t-linked land grabs threaten Cambodia’s Cardamom Mountains, Fueled by impunity, invasions surge in Brazil’s Indigenous lands, Chinese demand and domestic instability are wiping out Senegal’s last forests, Solomon Islands environmental defender faces life sentence for arson charge, ‘Tamper with nature, and everyone suffers’: Q&A with ecologist Enric Sala, New paper highlights spread of organized crime from global fisheries, Study: Chinese ‘dark fleets’ illegally defying sanctions by fishing in North Korean waters, Game changer? It is possible, though, that there no more than 10 vaquitas left. Scientists estimate that there are only about ten left. Customized Research & Analysis â¦ 1000? EAL’s Operation Fake Gold in 2018 identified cartels in Mexico that buy totoaba from poachers and then sell them to Chinese traders. Last year, experts determined there were only 30 vaquitas left. 24-28 INCHES. The prey that Vaquitas feed on will increase because there is one less organism that will eat it. Vaquitas have a small dorsal fin on their backs, two pectoral fins (one on either side of the body), and a tail fin, also known as a fluke. FEEDBACK: Use this form to send a message to the author of this post. Taylor said the vaquitas that have been spotted in recent years are fat and healthy. Q: What do they eat?â¦ “There is very little focus and funding for the most important part of the problem, the trafficking networks and middlemen driving the trade,” Crosta said. The intense pressure on the totoaba that results has also made the fish a critically endangered species, according to the IUCN, and the gillnets intended to catch it (as well as other animals like shrimp) have also snagged vaquitas in devastating numbers. The vaquita is the smallest of whales, porpoises and dolphins. “Mexico must act decisively to ensure that all gillnet fishing is brought to an end throughout the Upper Gulf [of California].”. And while the ban on gillnets is critical to saving the vaquita, he said, it doesn’t tackle an essential part of what continues to sustain their decline — the illegal totoaba fishery. Totoaba swim bladders, or maws, fetch high prices in Chinese markets for their use in traditional medicine. “If the last one in the wild dies that will be the last of the species,” he said. A lucrative fishery for totoaba (Totoaba macdonaldi) has taken a toll on vaquita numbers. “If you stop killing them, I think they would come back,” she said. People can help protect the vaquita and other vulnerable marine wildlife by refusing to purchase seafood caught in gillnets. Crosta supports the gillnet ban, and the text has been updated with this clarification.. Findley, L. (2010). If you want to post a public comment, you can do that at the bottom of the page. “If there were any reservations about totoaba gillnets being a great danger for vaquitas and other cetaceans, despite ample proof in the past, this event should definitely leave no room for doubt,” Locky Maclean, director of marine operations for Sea Shepherd, said in a statement from the organization. Perry’s organization released a report in 2016 detailing the methods that crime syndicates use to get maws to market. If you would like to support our campaign, please consider adopting a vaquita (or one of the other 6 species) â that also makes a great gift (and in the process you get to spread the word! As you go south from the vaquita’s habitat, the water gets too cold and deep for them. All Rights Reserved. Banner image of a vaquita by Paula Olson/NOAA via Wikimedia Commons (Public domain). http://dx.doi.org/10.2305/IUCN.UK.2010-3.RLTS.T22003A9346099.en. Life expectancy is estimated at about 20 years and age of sexual maturity is somewhere between 3 and 6 years of age. Asked by Wiki User. The vaquita â a tiny, rare porpoise who lives in the Sea of Cortez in the Upper Gulf of California, near Mexico â is the most endangered cetacean in the world. I know an aquarium is not a great place to live, but it sure beats the heck out of being dead and extinct! “Mexico has only made paper promises to protect these porpoises from deadly nets, without enforcement on the water.”. I’m a science contributor writing about animals for Forbes.com. Little is known about the life history of this species. It is possible, though, that there no more than 10 vaquitas left. ). It is not a drug, but its illegal trade generates tens of thousands of dollars on China's black market: the totoaba bladder - an endemic fish of the Gulf in danger of extinction - is the forbidden delicacy that confronts authorities and ecologists against traffickers in the northwest of Mexico. On March 13, scientists announced that around 10 vaquitas (Phocoena sinus) are left on Earth, just as the environmental group Sea Shepherd said it had found one of the porpoises that had drowned in a gillnet that was probably set to catch a totoaba fish. The habitat that vaquitas live in isn’t polluted or developed. Totoaba macdonaldi. Because they live in warmer waters they have an extra finger bone and larger fins compared to other porpoises to help dissipate heat, said Taylor. / AFP PHOTO / Joanna CHIU / TO GO WITH AFP STORY by Yemeli ORTEGA and Joanna CHIU (Photo credit should read JOANNA CHIU/AFP via Getty Images), EY & Citi On The Importance Of Resilience And Innovation, Impact 50: Investors Seeking Profit — And Pushing For Change, Michigan Economic Development Corporation BrandVoice. Accidental entanglement in fixed fishing nets (gillnets) is believed to be the primary cause for the species' decline. Correction: An earlier version of this article incorrectly interpreted the position of EAL director Andrea Crosta on the gillnet ban in the vaquita’s range.
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