Tags: vaquita | porpoises | extinct

Vaquita Porpoises Nearly Extinct, Only 60 Left in Wild

Image: Vaquita Porpoises Nearly Extinct, Only 60 Left in Wild

A netted Vaquita porpoise. (Getty Images)

By    |   Wednesday, 18 May 2016 08:15 AM

Vaquita porpoises are on the brink of extinction with only 60 remaining in the wild, say experts, a 92 percent decline from their numbers in 1997, reported the Huffington Post.

The porpoises are the smallest of the cetaceans, which includes dolphins, whales and porpoises, growing to five feet in length. They are mostly found in warmer waters, particularly in the northern portion of Mexico's Gulf of California.

"We are watching this precious native species disappear before our eyes," Lorenzo Rojas-Bracho, chair of the International Committee for the Recovery of the Vaquita, CIRVA, said on the International Union for Conservation of Nature's Species Survival Commission's website.

"Our latest survey confirms the catastrophic decline before the emergency gillnet ban. This gillnet ban and strong enforcement must continue if we are to have any hope of saving the Vaquita." 

The World Wildlife Fund said Vaquita porpoises are caught and drown in gillnets used by illegal fishing operations in the Gulf of California. The fund said more than half of the Vaquita population has been lost in the last three years.

The Mexican government has been working to prevent illegal fishing of totoba in the area where Vaquitas are supposed to be protected, said Rafael Pacchiano, Mexico's secretary of the environment and natural resources. The government has also been battling efforts to stop the trafficking of protected marine species and organized criminal groups in the area.

"Surveillance operations were intensified, especially at night, by incorporating equipment and personnel from the Agency of Environmental Protection, the Navy of Mexico, the Federal Police and the Department of Fisheries, allowing greater land and maritime surveillance during the curvina fishing season in April," Pacchiano said on the IUCN-SSC website.

The website Quartz said totoba, an endangered Mexican fish, is in demand in China for its swim bladder. The Chinese use bladders, also called fish maws, to make soups and they are believed to have medical qualities that cure joint pain and other ailments and ease the discomfort in pregnant women.

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Vaquita porpoises are on the brink of extinction with only 60 remaining in the wild, say experts, a 92 percent decline from their numbers in 1997.
vaquita, porpoises, extinct
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2016-15-18
Wednesday, 18 May 2016 08:15 AM
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