Scientists Declared that There Are Only 22 Vaquita Porpoises Left in The World

Scientists Declared that There Are Only 22 Vaquita Porpoises Left in The World

The Vaquita Porpoise is one of the smallest and most critically endangered marine mammals. Sadly, scientists predict this lovely sea creature will be extinct by June of this year. The rare mammal is found exclusively in the Gulf of California, and experts estimate there are about 22 of them left as of now.

These five-foot-long cetaceans, which fall into the family of dolphins, whales, and porpoises, have snub stouts and dark eye patches. Their black lips, which appear to be constantly smiling, is one of their defining traits. In fact, that’s how they earned the nickname “marine Mona Lisa.”

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UPDATE: Scientists have decided to stop capturing vaquita porpoises. - A mature female vaquita porpoise of reproductive age has died—due to stress from being captured in an attempt to recover the species. With fewer than 30 vaquitas left (and no estimate of how many females are left in the population) the death of this female is devastating news. The female was determined not pregnant or lactating, and a release attempt was made (but unsuccessful) when she showed signs of extreme stress. - Hundreds of vaquitas have been lost since 1997 despite significant efforts by the Mexican government to ban gillnet fishing throughout the vaquitas’ range and establish strong enforcement of conservation measures— unfortunately illegal gillnet fishing continues. The illegal gillnets in the Upper Gulf of California are used for both the fishing of endangered totoaba and shrimp, but are clearly catching the vaquita as by-catch. Gillnets in general across the world catch MANY non-targeted species such as sharks, turtles, dolphins, and others! - The Vaquita Conservation, Rescue, and Recovery (VaquitaCPR) scientists will be reviewing the events that have happened in the past 24 hours to determine how it's best to proceed in the recovery effort of the vaquita. It's important to note a six month old calf was recently captured as well, but had to be released due to stress. Currently a small temporary sea pen has been set up to keep the captured vaquitas contained before moving them to land-based pools and/or a more permanent sanctuary for breeding attempts. This would not only help to increase the population, but to provide a secure area where they have no risk of being caught and killed in gillnets. However, the question now is if this recovery effort will work at all. So far the pattern seems to be that they can't handle the stress of captivity and human contact. No vaquita has ever been kept in captivity before, and we still don't know much about them. If they can't even handle the stress of captivity for a few hours how are they going to successfully breed in captivity? Unfortunately the fate of the vaquita appears bleak. Caption: @sevenseasoffreedom

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Journalist Ben Goldfarb wrote an article about it for the Pacific Standard, in which he explained:

“They share their habitat with a fish called the totoaba, a mammoth cousin of the sea bass whose swim bladders are a delicacy worth up to $100,000 per kilogram in mainland China and Hong Kong. Although totoaba fishing has been banned since 1975—they, too, are critically endangered—poaching is rampant. Vaquitas, roughly the same size as totoabas, are prone to getting entangled and drowning in illegal nets.”

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It's International #SaveTheVaquita Day! The #vaquita is the smallest porpoise on the planet, and there are only about 30 individuals left in the wild. (THIRTY!) This little guy is critically endangered due to poor fishing practices that involve a high amount of bycatch. This is an animal that we are witnessing going extinct, so we have to take drastic measures to protect it. Mexico has played their part by permanently banning gillnet fishing, in an attempt to save the vaquita. You can do your part by learning where your seafood comes from, and encouraging restaurants to only serve sustainably-caught seafood. And finally, the biggest thing that you can do is raise awareness. Tell all of your friends about the vaquita porpoise. The more people who know about it, the more we can work together to solve the problem. @vaquitacpr #extinctionisforever #vaquitaporpoise @vaaquarium

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Every year in May, the Sea of Cortez is swarming with fisherman who are looking to cash in on the dwindling totoaba population. That’s the reason experts fear the vaquita population will go extinct in June, as another “totoaba rush” could completely wipe out the remaining population.

With just 22 left, it wouldn’t take much to lose the remaining vaquita porpoises.


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