Save the VAQUITA (Phocoena sinus) ©posted at animalspic
©Conservation International Mexico / Northwest Program
The word “vaquita” is Spanish for little cow. It’s the smallest porpoise in the world, measuring 5 feet or less. The young ones are barely bigger than lap dogs. It’s also critically endangered, with a population of something like 125 in just one place in the world – the far northern reaches of the Gulf of California.
The Vaquita is one of the top 100 EDGE Species, meaning “Evolutionarily Distinct, Globally Endangered”. Evolutionarily distinct animals have no close relatives and represent proportionally more of the tree of life than other species, meaning they are top priority for conservation campaigns.
The water is relatively unpolluted there, and habitat remains. The problem is fishing. Gill nets used there trap vaquitas as well as fish, and hold them underwater until they drown.
Fishermen are doing their part. They’ve voluntarily cut back 70 percent of their activities in the area where the vaquita live. They’re also working with the Mexican government to develop equipment that catches fish but leaves vaquita unharmed.
A problem is that the economic difficulties being experienced in Mexico have made it difficult for the Mexican government to compensate fishermen who are restraining themselves from profitable activities that harm the vaquita.
If you’ve got the wherewithal, you can help, by donating to the Vaquita Recovery Fund’s gillnet buyout program. For more information, take a look at Save The Vaquita, Vaquita.org
Note: I don’t normally post “art” instead of photos but sadly there are no photos (other than fins skimming the surface) of live Vacquito. Being from California and having been line fishing in Baja for many years, these little guys are near and dear to my heart. I hope they can be saved before it’s too late.