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Mexico to Use Drones to Protect Endangered Porpoise

Mark Stevenson - Associated Press
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January 20, 2015
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CCTV's Mike Kirsch reported last year from Mexico's Sea of Cortez on the Vaquita: a lovable looking porpoise that faces a desperate race for survival. (CCTV Americas Now)

Mexico is planning to use drones to patrol the upper Sea of Cortez to combat illegal fishing and save the critically endangered vaquita marina, the world's smallest porpoise.

Assistant environmental prosecutor Alejandro del Mazo said Monday his agency has conducted tests of unmanned aircraft flights in cooperation with the Mexican Navy.

Del Mazo says he hopes to have three drones patrolling the vaquita's habitat in coming months. Also known as the Gulf of California, it is the only place vaquitas are found.

"We are considering the use of advanced technology, because drones would allow us to have permanent aerial patrols in the area and be able to react much more efficiently and quickly," Del Mazo said.

Fewer than 100 of the shy, elusive porpoises remain. The vaquita is threatened by illegal gillnet fishing for totoaba, a large fish whose swim bladder is prized by chefs in China.

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