The vaquita is one of the world’s most critically endangered species, with fewer than 30 individuals left. According to the organization World Animal Protection, there are currently as few as 23 vaquita porpoises left on earth. This astounding number means that every single careless action and decision regarding the species can tip the scales when it comes to its survival. But, at the same time, it is also the reason why every positive change for the population and every action aimed at helping it survive is invaluable – and urgently needed.
Found only in the Upper Gulf of California, the vaquitas’ severe population decline is primarily due to human action – mainly, illegal fishing for totoaba – a fish harvested for its bladder which is used as a recreational drug. Gillnets are typically used by illegal fishing vessels and they unfortunately often catch vaquitas too. Since 1997, 80 percent of the world’s vaquitas has been lost because of this practice.
World Animal Protection and their partners, the International Committee for the Recovery of the Vaquita (CIRVA), Californian company Monterey Bay Diving, and a group of local fishermen, have been working to remove those life-threatening illegal nets from the waters off San Felipe, Mexico. Using sonar scanning technology, they have located the nets in critical vaquita habitat – and removed an astonishing 2,000 square meters of net! Thanks to the initiative, the spot has become a lot more safe to marine animals and, especially, to the vulnerable vaquita population.
To learn more about World Animal Protection, click here.