Saving the World's Most Endangered Sea Mammal
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September 9, 2014
CCTV's Mike Kirsch reports from Mexico's Sea of Cortez on the Vaquita: a lovable looking porpoise that faces a desperate race for survival. (CCTV Americas Now)
Humans have driven to extinction four marine mammal species in modern times: Steller´s sea cow in 1768, the Caribbean monk seal in 1952, the Japanese sea lion in 1970, and the baiji or Chinese river dolphin in 2006. As you read this, we are on the brink of losing the fifth.
The vaquita (Spanish for "little cow"), a small porpoise that lives only in the uppermost Gulf of California, Mexico, is the most endangered of the 128 marine mammals alive today. The vaquita, which some say looks endearing with its unique facial markings, is the smallest of all whales, dolphins and porpoises.
The only way to prevent its extinction is if the Mexican, U.S. and Chinese governments take immediate and coordinated action.
New evidence presented by a team of international scientists, established by the government of Mexico, shows that the vaquita is running out of time even faster than we thought.
The population is very small and disappearing rapidly with more than half lost in just the last three years. There were about 200 vaquitas a few years ago, and now a report presented recently to the Mexican government by an international recovery team estimated that fewer than 100 remain.
Each year, about one in five vaquitas is drowned in fishing nets, both legal and illegal. This makes it likely that at least another 20% of the population will be lost during the next fishing season, shrinking the total number even more.
In light of this alarming decline, the international team has called for an emergency regulation establishing a gillnet exclusion zone for the entire range of the vaquita starting this September.
Read the rest at WDSU.com
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