The vaquita is a type of toothed whale and is considered to be one of the smallest cetaceans around. The vaquitas are usually found in the Sea of Cortez or what we call as the Gulf of California. Although they’re once often seen in these areas, the vaquitas are now slowly on the brink of extinction. It’s believed that there are less than 22 vaquitas in the wild now. Because there are no strict rules over the use of gillnets, they’re in a very dangerous situation at the moment. In fact, a recent decomposed body of a vaquita was found in a gillnet, prompting Mexico’s officials to do something about it.
Although they’re facing a very risky situation, Mexico’s new president still has hope. Andrés Manuel Lópes Obrador acknowledged the situation despite facing a lot of economic pressure for banning gillnets in the Sea of Cortez. However, their goal is to stop the vaquita from facing extinction as they’ve also gathered that the totoaba, another marine species, is now also susceptible to becoming endangered. They’re now fighting to stop these species from becoming extinct, and because the totoaba has a very high market value for its swim bladder, especially the Chinese markets, poachers, and even the drug cartels, it’s becoming a tough battle for them.
Despite everything, Mexico’s government officials, marine conservationists, biologists, and other concerned groups held to their promise of rescuing these endangered species. Now, the totoaba are bred in a safe environment. However, for the vaquitas, they’re harder to breed in captivity. In fact, one vaquita died while another one almost did, so the process was stopped and they were released. Despite all of this, Mexico is keen on banning all gillnets. They are also paying fishermen to remove ghost nets and gillnets to promote their cause further.
While the vaquitas’ chance of survival is low at the moment, there is still a glimmer of hope, but only time can tell.