Critically Endangered Vaquita Porpoise Found Dead in Mexico

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first_img Watch: Dolphin Leaps Feet Away From Unsuspecting SurferWatch: Deep-Sea Octopus ‘Billows Like a Circus Tent’ Stay on target Activists patrolling the Vaquita Refuge off the coast of Mexico say they have found a dead vaquita porpoise, a critically endangered marine animal of which only about 10 remain in the world.On March 12, crew from the environmental group Sea Shepherd found an unidentified white animal trapped in an illegal gillnet, an apparatus used to trap fish by their gills. The decomposed carcass made it difficult to positively identify the animal but after sending preliminary photographs to marine mammal experts, it was determined that morphology and length matched the body of a vaquita porpoise, according to a statement.Although the organization has found several dead vaquitas confirmed by scientists to have been killed from entanglement, this is the first time one has been discovered still trapped in a gillnet, according to Sea Shepherd.“If there were any reservations about totoaba gillnets being a great danger for vaquitas and other cetaceans, despite ample proof in the past, this event should definitely leave no room for doubt,” said Sea Shepherd Director of Marine Operations Locky Maclean.News of the discovery comes just a few days before scientists announced that only 10 vaquita porpoises likely remain in the world and that the animal’s extinction is virtually assured without bold and immediate action.The vaquita was found trapped in an illegal gillnet, an apparatus used to trap fish by their gills. (Photo Credit: Sea Shepherd)The announcement from the International Committee for the Recovery of the Vaquita also calls on Mexico President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador to end all gillnet fishing and adopt a “zero tolerance” policy of enforcement in the vaquita’s small remaining habitat, according to EcoWatch.Even as Mexico banned the use of most gillnets within the vaquita’s range in 2017, the vaquita’s population dropped 50 percent in 2018, leaving an estimate of around 10 remaining vaquita, with no more than 22 and perhaps as few as six, according to scientists.In 2018, demonstrators with the Animal Welfare Institute held a rally to save the vaquita, the world’s smallest and most endangered porpoise, outside the Mexican Embassy in Washington, DC (Photo Credit: Saul Loeb / AFP / Getty Images)“If Mexico doesn’t want to be guilty of wiping out a species, it needs to secure 100 percent gillnet-free habitat now,” said Zak Smith, a senior attorney with the Natural Resources Defense Council’s Marine Mammal Protection Project.As a response, the Mexican government recently announced that it will use buoys to mark the reserve of the vaquita porpoises. The Environment Department promised to provide social programs and jobs for fishing communities in the upper Gulf of California, the only place in the world the vaquita lives, the Washington Post reported.But despite the marine mammal’s alarming decline, the international committee emphasized that the vaquita is not extinct and that recovery remains possible. They are still producing offspring, and the remaining animals are healthy, showing no signs of disease or malnutrition.More on New See-Through Glass Frog Is Threatened by MiningGiant 700-Pound Alligator Found in Georgia DitchWatch: Dead Humpback Whale Found in Brazilian Junglelast_img

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