OCT 17, 2018 5:31 PM PDT

Will Vaquitas Get Another Chance to Rebound?

WRITTEN BY: Anthony Bouchard

Native to the Gulf of California, the vaquita (Phocoena sinus) is one of the most elusive porpoises alive today. Not only does the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) recognize the vaquita as a critically-endangered species, but the firm’s website also indicates that there could be fewer than 18 mature individuals living in the wild today.

A pair of wild vaquitas in their natural habitat.

Image Credit: Paula Olson/NOAA

Vaquita population numbers got as low as they are today because they’ve been impacted by illegal fishing activity in the Gulf of California for many years. Fisheries frequently deploy nets to capture totoaba, which are considered a delicacy in some parts of the world, but these nets inadvertently catch vaquitas as bycatch.

Vaquita populations are dangling by a thread, but conservationists haven’t given up hope for saving the species from extinction. In fact, conservationists happened upon six surviving vaquitas in their natural habitat last month, and among them was a known specimen named Ana; she was accompanied by what’s being reported as her second calf in only two years.

Related: One of the world's rarest porpoises dies during rescue attempt

Animal experts have long thought that vaquita mothers give birth to just one calf every two years, but Ana’s circumstances suggest that they could be reproducing more frequently than initially thought. The enlightenment seems to be igniting lots of fresh energy in the fight to protect the porpoises.

Animal experts are now calling on local governments to erect a floating barricade around the perimeter of what’s believed to be the natural habitat for these critically-endangered porpoises. Doing so would prevent fishing boats from crossing into their habitat and exacerbating the delicate situation even further.

The floating fence concept would encompass a 12x25-mile rectangle in the Gulf of California where animal experts believe the remaining vaquita population resides today. Once protected, the animals could reproduce in their natural habitat without unnecessary disturbances from the outside world. Theoretically, vaquita population numbers could rise rather than fall if all went well.

The experts also suggest stationing a Navy ship in the region to enforce fishing laws and prevent harm to the vaquitas.

Given the circumstances surrounding the elusive vaquita, there’s not much else we can do to prevent such a vulnerable species from going extinct. As a wise person once said, ‘desperate times call for desperate measures.’ It should be interesting to see how animal conservationists and local governments will work together to combat the problem going forward.

Source: Phys.org, The Washington Post, IUCN

About the Author
  • Fascinated by scientific discoveries and media, Anthony found his way here at LabRoots, where he would be able to dabble in the two. Anthony is a technology junkie that has vast experience in computer systems and automobile mechanics, as opposite as those sound.
You May Also Like
DEC 09, 2019
Neuroscience
DEC 09, 2019
Russian Cows Use VR Headsets to Increase Milk Production
Harsh weather conditions, particularly those found during winter months, are known to lead to a decrease in milk production among cows. To tackle this, Rus...
DEC 30, 2019
Genetics & Genomics
DEC 30, 2019
Chinese Scientists Implant Genes for Human Intelligence in Monkeys
Scientists from China and the US have implanted a human gene linked to intelligence in the genomes of macaque monkeys. The first experiment of its kind, th...
DEC 30, 2019
Plants & Animals
DEC 30, 2019
Are Blue Animals Truly Blue?
Animals come in all sorts of colors, and while the animal kingdom has most of the rainbow’s colors at its disposal, there are a few exceptions. Some...
JAN 12, 2020
Plants & Animals
JAN 12, 2020
Diego the Giant Tortoise Returning to Wild After Saving His Species
One would witness a plethora of exotic animals upon visiting the renowned Galápagos Islands, one of which might be the Galápagos giant tortoi...
JAN 23, 2020
Earth & The Environment
JAN 23, 2020
Scientists Assess the Value of the Ocean's Twilight Zone
Fifteen years ago, an international cohort of scientists and policy experts introduced the idea of assessing ecosystems by the "services" they pr...
FEB 03, 2020
Plants & Animals
FEB 03, 2020
Watch a Polar Bear Mom Scare Off a Bully So Her Cubs Can Eat
Polar bears realize that food can be scarce at times, and that’s a problem considering just how much they like to eat. In many cases, they find food ...
Loading Comments...