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Environmentalists Warn About Further Drop in Numbers of Endangered Porpoises in Mexico

LADB Article ID: 80562
Category/Department: Mexico
Date: 2018-04-04
By: Carlos Navarro

Despite intensive conservation efforts, the number of vaquita marina porpoises in the Sea of Cortez, also known as the Gulf of California, has dwindled to extremely critical numbers. According to a recent report from the wildlife preservation group Elephant Action League (EAL), only about a dozen of the endangered porpoises are left, about one-third of the total estimated just last year.EAL, the International Committee for the Recovery of the Vaquita, and other private conservation groups attribute the sharp drop to human activity—mainly the illegal use of gillnets by fishing fleets in the vaquita’s habitat. The fishing fleets are primarily searching for another threatened species, the totoaba, whose swim bladders are in high demand in China, where the organ is used to prepare a specialty soup (SourceMex, March 25, 2015). Some buyers are willing to pay as much as US$4,500 per kilogram of swim bladders, according the Baja California-based newspaper La Prensa. “My sources confirmed to me that we are now talking about a dozen vaquitas left in the Sea of Cortez,” said EAL director Andrea Crosta. “The scientists are using sonic buoys to count them, through echolocation, and numbers are now really low.”

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