The Vaquita is the world’s most endangered marine mammal. It is thought that about 60 of the animals exist in the ocean today. This small species of porpoise (Phocoena sinus) lives in the warm waters of the eastern Pacific Ocean–specifically in the northern Gulf of California, in a small region east of Baja California not too distant from San Diego. According to the International Union for the Conservation of Nature, the Vaquita is classified as Critically Endangered.
International Save the Vaquita Day was observed today in San Diego and many other cities around the world. I swung by Seaport Village to see what efforts are underway to save Mexico’s “Panda of the Sea” and to learn a little about the Vaquita.
I learned that the Vaquita, thankfully, enjoys clean waters. Their big threat is being entangled in the gillnets of fishermen. A major effort is underway to eliminate these nets from the Vaquita’s natural habitat. But some fishermen, seeking to provide a living for themselves, use them anyway.
I learned there’s also an effort to inform consumers that some shrimp and fish that one finds in the grocery store is caught with gillnets. It is hoped enlightened shoppers will seek out and purchase seafood that isn’t caught with this type of net.
I learned that Vaquitas have never been held in aquariums, and has only been known to science since 1958.
If this species goes extinct, it will be gone forever.
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