World's Tiniest Porpoise Will Probably Go Extinct
Thanks a lot, poachers.
Only 50 vaquitas are left in the northern Gulf of California, which would make it the first porpoise species to go extinct in North America in modern times.
Vaquitas are cute. They’re small — no bigger than a large loaf a bread — and have big eyes and a permanent grin. Who would ever want to harm these wonderful creatures?
Well, poachers for one. Unsurprisingly.
It turns out that poachers, while targeting another endangered fish — the totoaba — are killing the vaquita in the process. Nice.
“It’s a large sea bass that only exists in the Gulf of California,” Mike Osborn with U.S. Fish and Wildlife Services, told ABC 10 News. “One of the hottest commodities out of Mexico right now, and again something that’s heading to Asia for the food trade.”
The rare fish are prized in China for their supposed medicinal benefits and are sold in Asia for tens of thousands of dollars.
Unfortunately, the vaquitas are becoming caught in the nets that are used to catch the totoaba and are subsequently dying.
Mexico currently has a two-year ban of net fishing where the totoaba and vaquita live, however the totoaba bladders continue to travel across the U.S. border.
The San Diego Tribune suggests implementing a permanent gillnet ban that would be fully enforced around the clock is the only way the vaquitas — and the totoaba — will have a fighting chance to survive.
We hope the U.S. and Mexico are able to join forces to help this precious species.