International Save the Vaquita Day in Hong Kong
The Vaquita Porpoise. Photo by Tom Jefferson.
"Despedida la Vaquita" by Frédérique Lucas
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Two vaquitas photographed during the recent survey ©Todd Pusser
The last couple of months have seen a great deal of activity in the world of vaquita conservation. While the gillnet ban went into effect in the spring of 2015, media reports suggested that it was not being enforced effectively (and we heard of several busts of illegal fishing activity). At the end of September, the Ocean Starr (formerly the NOAA vessel David Starr Jordan) began its two-month long survey of the vaquita population, designed to develop a new estimate of abundance. At the halfway point in late October, the news was mixed. Vaquita sightings were much lower than during similar periods of past surveys, prompting fears that the population size may already be critically low… but, vaquitas were being sighted. Also, there was virtually no evidence of illegal gillnet fishing, suggesting that the gillnet ban is having an effect. A highlight occurred when, early in the cruise, several high-ranking Mexican government officials were able to see vaquitas with their own eyes during a short stint onboard the Ocean Starr. It is hoped that this will help foster their appreciation and desire to protect the species. Read more>
The vaquita porpoise (Phocoena sinus) is considered by many to be the rarest and most-endangered species of marine mammal in the world. It is Critically Endangered with an estimated 245 remaining in 2008 and less than 100 in 2014 (CIRVA 2014). It is the smallest of only seven species of true porpoises, and is the only one that lives in warm waters of the eastern Pacific Ocean. It is found in a tiny area in the extreme northern Gulf of California, near Baja California, Mexico. Learn more about vaquita>
Only an immediate and total ban on gillnets in the entirety of the vaquita's range can save it from extinction.
Bonnie Card Weingarth, Golden Dolphins Media Productions, donated video production.
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Aidan Bodeo-Lomicky's (V-Log) book on the vaquita porpoise. Purchase now for $12.95
All proceeds go to ¡VIVA Vaquita!
Photos taken under permit (Oficio No. DR/488/08 from the Comisión Nacional de Áreas Naturale Protegidas (CONANP/Secretaría del Medio Ambiente y Recursos Naturales (SEMARNAT), within a natural protected area subject to special management and decreed as such by the Mexican Government. This work was made possible thanks to the collaboration and support of the Coordinador de Investigación y Conservación de Mamíferos Marinos at the Instituto Nacional de Ecología (INE).
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