Home Sciences International conspiracy to prevent the extinction of the vaquita marina

International conspiracy to prevent the extinction of the vaquita marina


The vaquita porpoise is the most endangered species of marine mammal on the planet.. It is one of the seven species of porpoise, it is 150 centimeters long and weighs up to 50 kilos. It is an endemic cetacean of Mexican waters that inhabits the biosphere reserve of the Gulf of California. Representatives from several countries have conspired to prevent its extinction: they have created a international committee that will promote measures and strategies for the recovery of the species.

The species is considered animal in “critically endangered”. In fact only about 10 copies left. This week the International Day of the vaquita marina has been celebrated. It is the smallest marine mammal on the planet and the rarest. It is difficult to observe it in its habitat. Poaching, pollution and habitat alteration are some of the factors that hinder their survival.. In addition, it has a low reproductive rate.

Why are they called vaquitas? According to the National Autonomous University of Mexico (UNAM), there is no clear explanation about the origin of the name; however, their appearance may give some clues: vaquita porpoises are stocky, have white bellies, and dark rings around their eyes and mouths. The ancestors of the vaquita had four legs. A characteristic in this species is the protruding appearance of the lips. Are shy and enigmaticthey are usually alone or accompanied by a young.

The UNAM explains that “they returned to the water after millions of years and, little by little, they changed shape: the front legs became fins and the rear ones disappeared.”

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Discovered in 1958

The formal discovery of the vaquitas dates back to 1958. In 1997 there were 570 specimens of vaquitas in the world, in 2015 there were only 60 left and currently it is believed that the number of vaquitas is only 10 specimens.

Why has the extinction of the vaquita has accelerated? There are several reasons: the bad policies regarding fishing in Mexico and the number of people who seek the maw of the totoaba fish. Because the fate of the vaquitas has been strongly linked to that of that other species, similar to the bass, which has a large crop that is highly coveted in China. In the traditional medicine of that country, dried fish maws are believed to be aphrodisiacs and generally beneficial for health.

In the black market of that country, the kilo of crop can be sold for up to 8,000 euros, according to the Government of Mexico. Not in vain has it been called “the cocaine of the sea”. The trafficking of this fish is controlled by organized crime, according to the UN. To fish for totoaba, fishermen use gillnets or gillnets in which the vaquitas get stuck and suffocate.

Vaquita habitat is very limited and food supply in the marine environment is affected by the quality and nutrient level. The damming of the Colorado River has reduced the flow of fresh water supplied to the gulf, which is dangerous for the vaquita. In addition the pesticide use chlorinated could also have a detrimental effect.

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affected by climate change

The scarcity of specimens and the fact that they reproduce every two years or more, that gestation lasts between 10 and 11 months and that they give birth to only one offspring are added problems for the survival of the species.

Climate change is also another of the causes that has caused the decline of the vaquita marina. Given the increase in water temperature or other alterations in the characteristics of the ecosystem, most species are forced to migratesomething that is very likely to happen shortly in the case of the vaquita, increasing, in turn, competition with other species and making its survival difficult.

What measures have been adopted to prevent the extinction of the vaquita marina? So far it has been created International Committee for the Recovery of the Vaquita (CIRVA), in order to launch a series of strategies and measures that ensure the recovery of the species.

These strategies consist of promote the development and maintenance of the Gulf of California regionin which the species is located, as well as promote the practice of sustainable and environmentally friendly fishingthat does not cause any damage or affect the conservation of the vaquita marina.

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