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Save the vaquita
2016-01-18 11:46:23 Post No. 2040377
Save the vaquita
Post No. 2040377
>Vaquita Porpoise Faces Imminent Extinction--Can It Be Saved?
>Drastic measures are needed to rescue vaquitas in the Gulf of California.
By Virginia Morell, for National Geographic
>Only 97 vaquita porpoises remain in the wild. Their steep decline is blamed largely on illegal gill-net fishing in the Gulf of California.
"The vaquita, a small porpoise found only in the Gulf of California, is rapidly going extinct, an international team of scientists reported earlier this month.
The researchers say that the marine mammals--whose name means "little cow" in Spanish--are accidentally drowning in the gill nets local fishers deploy for fish and shrimp. A mere 97 vaquitas remain.
Vaquitas are shy creatures, and rarely seen, except when they're pulled to the surface--dead--in nets. They've been known to science only since 1958, when three skulls were found on a beach. At the time, it was thought that they numbered in the low thousands. Scientists and fishers alike say the animals, with their pretty facial markings ("they look like they're wearing lipstick and mascara," one scientist said) and sleek bodies, are endearing.
There's danger now that the porpoises will become the second cetacean (the first was the baiji, or Chinese river dolphin) to succumb to human pressures, most likely disappearing forever by 2018.
"It's a complete disappointment for everybody, because we've all been working hard to turn this around, and the [Mexican] government has addressed this from the highest level possible," said Lorenzo Rojas-Bracho, a cetacean conservation specialist at Mexico's Commission of Natural Protected Areas and a member of the team.