A vaquita caught in a gill net.
Most people have not even heard of a vaquita, much less seen one. Vaquitas are the world’s smallest porpoise and it is teetering on the verge of extinction. These creatures measure about 5 feet in length and are the only porpoise to be found in the northern end of Mexico’s Gulf of California. According to the International Committee for the Recovery of the Vaquita, there are approximately only 60 individuals left in the wild.
The main threat to vaquitas is being mistakenly entangled in gill nets, which are set to capture the also vulnerable totoaba fish. The totoaba is endemic to the Gulf of California and its bladder is a prized delicacy in China and Hong Kong. The demand for these bladders has resulted in a surge of illegal gill nets in Mexico’s waters.
In an effort to curb the illegal harvesting of totoabas, organizations such as Greenpeace and the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) have launched campaigns in the hopes of spreading awareness. If conservation attempts are not successful, there is no telling the impact the loss of these two species can have on the Gulf of California’s ecosystem.
To read the full article of how the trafficking of totoabas is linked to the endearment of vaquitas click here.