Breeding-Age Female Vaquita Porpoise Dies After Being Taken Into Captivity
Mike Gaworecki - Mongabay
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November 7, 2017

A young woman with the World Wildlife Fund carries a papier mache replica of the critically endangered porpoise known as the vaquita marina, during an event in front of the National Palace in Mexico City (AP/Rebecca Blackwell)

Update: Calls for End to Mexico's Capture of Endangered Porpoise (Associated Press)

Last month, the government of Mexico launched a last-ditch effort to save the critically endangered vaquita, a small porpoise known to reside only in the Gulf of California.

A team of marine mammal experts assembled by the Mexican government created a project called Vaquita Conservation, Protection and Recovery (VaquitaCPR) that aims to capture the remaining 30 vaquitas (Phocoena sinus) and keep them safe in specially built floating “sea pens” until the species’ survival is no longer threatened by the illegal trade and fishing activities that have driven them to the brink of extinction.

Late last month, scientists with VaquitaCPR took the first of the marine mammals into captivity. Though the 6-month-old calf became so stressed by its capture that the team quickly chose to release it back into the wild, Lorenzo Rojas-Bracho, a scientist with the Mexican government who heads the VaquitaCPR program, suggested that the fact that they were able to successfully find and capture a vaquita at all was an encouraging sign.

This past weekend, however, it was announced that another vaquita — a breeding-age female — was taken into captivity and subsequently died.

“A mature female vaquita, not pregnant or lactating, had been caught and transported successfully late in the afternoon on Saturday in the Northern Gulf of California and was taken to a specially-modified floating sea pen known as ElNido, or The Nest,” according to a statement from VaquitaCPR. “From the moment of capture, the vaquita was under constant care and observation for its health and safety.”

Marine mammal veterinarians that were monitoring the vaquita determined that it, too, had become stressed, to the point that its condition was deteriorating enough that once again the call was made to release the animal.

“The release attempt was unsuccessful and life saving measures were administered,” VaquitaCPR reports. “Despite the heroic efforts of the veterinary team, the vaquita did not survive.”

Read the rest at Mongabay

Related: Operation Under Review After Endangered Porpoise Dies (DeathRattleSports.com)

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