About 60 vaquita porpoise likely remain on Earth. We will lose the species forever if coordinated conservation efforts are not made to protect the marine animal.
Vaquita, the world’s most rare marine mammal, is getting closer to extinction. Scientists estimate that only about 60 vaquitas are likely remaining on Earth and if this critically endangered animal is not conserved right now, we will lose it forever.
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Vaquita is the smallest of the porpoise and is found only in Mexico’s northern Gulf of California. The population of vaquita has decreased significantly over the past few years. There were reportedly 570 vaquitas in 1997. Number went down to 245 in 2008. Their population further dropped to around 60 in the next few years. To put things into perspective, more than 90 percent of vaquitas are gone in the past 20 years and it could wipe out within six years if something has not done to save it.
The species was not discovered until 1958 and it is heartwrenching that just more than half a century later, we are seeing this little marine mammal disappearing from the world.
The biggest threat to vaquita is fishing nets in which marine mammal get tangled and drowned. Scientists propose a ban on fishing nets in the region so the remaining vaquitas can be saved and the ban should not be lifted until the species shows signs of recovery.
“If we’re going to avoid the species forever, Mexico must do much more to ensure its survival and that should start with an immediate, permanent ban on fishing nets that are pushing vaquitas to the absolute brink of extinction.” Sarah Uhlemann, program director at the Center for Biological Diversity said in a statement.
In 2015, authorities temporarily banned the use of gillnets within vaquita range but the effort was not enough due to loopholes as fishermen continued netting fish called corvina and vaquita continued trapping in the nets.
“The protection of vaquita in the wild must be absolute priority for the governments of Mexico, China and United States,” said Susan Millward, executive director at the Animal Welfare Institute (AWI). “It is the responsibility of Mexico to end illegal fishing in the upper Gulf of California and to join with other countries engaged in the illegal trafficking of totoaba to stop this trade in order to save the vaquita.”