One of the world’s rarest animals and the rarest of all of its kind is the vaquita [previously], an endangered porpoise living only in a small are of the Gulf of Mexico.
The marvelous mammal is on the brink of extinction because those same waters are populated by a fish possessed of a swim bladder rich Chinese men covet because they believe it restores virility to their aging penises. . .and because possessing it is a sign of their riches.
The fish, the totuaba, is itself on the list of threatened species, but the greatest danger in the illegal fishing by hard-pressed Mexican fisherfolk is to the Vaquita, often caught in the nets used to catch totuaba.
But now the Mexican government has finally acted.
From Environment News Service:
Mexico is to permanently ban the use of gillnets in waters where the endangered vaquita is found, in an attempt to save from extinction this small porpoise found only in the Gulf of California, Mexico.
Today, vaquita numbers are thought to have dropped to just 60 surviving individuals, according to the most recent report of the International Whaling Commission’s Scientific Committee.
Vaquitas inhabit the northern part of the Gulf of California where gillnets are used to catch a species of fish, the totoaba, also at risk of extinction.
The ban offers a chance to save both species but this can only be achieved with strict enforcement and monitoring to prevent illegal poaching.
“Without action the vaquita will be gone – the second entirely preventable cetacean extinction we will have witnessed in the last 10 years,” warns the 2016 report of the IWC’s Scientific Committee.