Saving The Cutest Little Porpoise That Ever Was
Okay, saving the vaquita because it’s cute is not a great approach to conservation. We ought to save the vaquita because it’s a unique animal that plays a vital role in its ecosystem.
But still, the vaquita is darned cute.
It’s the smallest porpoise in the world, measuring 5 feet or less. The young ones are barely bigger than lap dogs. It’s also critically endangered, with a population of something like 125 in just one place in the world – the far northern reaches of the Gulf of California.
The water is relatively unpolluted there, and habitat remains. The problem is fishing. Gill nets used there trap vaquitas as well as fish, and hold them underwater until they drown.
Fishermen from that part of Mexico are doing their part. They’ve voluntarily cut back 70 percent of their activities in the area where the vaquita live. They’re also working with the Mexican government to develop equipment that catches fish but leaves vaquita unharmed.
A problem is that the economic difficulties being experienced in Mexico right now have made it difficult for the Mexican government to financially compensate fishermen who are restraining themselves from profitable activities that harm the vaquita. So, people are having to choose between poverty and the vaquita.
If you’ve got the wherewithal, you can help, by donating to the Vaquita Recovery Fund’s gillnet buyout program.