The endangered Pacific porpoise has not yet disappeared from its habitat in the Gulf of California, researchers announced Wednesday after locating six specimens of this marine on the brink of extinction in Mexico
The world’s populations of the smallest cetacean in oceans, of only 1.5-meters long on average, has been decimated for several years by fishnets. The World Wildlife Fund (WWF) announced in May that the Pacific porpoise or “vaquita,” as it is popularly known, may disappear by the end of the year. But “all hope is not lost,” as said Lorenzo Rojas of the International Committee for the Safeguarding of Vaquita, after presenting the results of recent observations.
During an 11 days long mission in late September and early October, scientists spotted six Pacific porpoises, including a baby vaquita in the waters of the Gulf of California, in Mexican waters.
Six specimens of Pacific porpoise, a marine species on the brink of extinction, found in the Gulf of California
On the other hand, the last study, conducted in 2017, counted a total Pacific porpoise population of only thirty specimens. However, thanks to the new finding, a new estimation would be performed in January 2019.
The Pacific porpoise has been the victim for several years of fishnets used to fish for another species on the brink of extinction, the Totoaba, prized for its swim bladder which, once dried, is sold on the black market in China.
Each Totoaba bladder can be exchanged for up to $20,000 on the black market in Asia.
Hollywood star Leonardo DiCaprio and Mexican telecommunications tycoon Carlos Slim supported a rescue plan to save the vaquita. Also, last year, the Mexican government launched an operation to capture Pacific porpoise specimens and place them in a closed area of the Gulf of California in the hope that they will reproduce. But the process was suspended after the death of a specimen following its capture.