Mexico Bans Nets To Save The Vaquitas

They’re bringing in specially trained dolphins, too
BY: SANDY BEECH

A temporary gillnet has been made permanent in an effort to preserve the vaquitas. The ban is part of an agreement made this month by the Mexican government, actor Leonardo DiCaprio and Carlos Slim, Mexico’s richest businessman, to try to save the vaquita.

Mexico has been working furiously to try and save the endangered porpoise, which lives up in the top of the Gulf of California, the body of water that separates Baja from the mainland. There are only about 30 or 40 of them left.

The vaquita population has declined drastically in the last few years, mainly due to them getting caught in fishermen’s gillnets. The vaquita has been bycatch in shrimp and illegal totoaba fisheries, which use gillnets. The totoaba, which is itself highly endangered, is caught for its swim bladders which are smuggled to China for sale on the black market.

Another measure planned by Mexican authorities is the capture of the remaining porpoises to keep them in captivity in the hope they will breed. And to help them gather up the vaquitas, they’re bringing in… specially trained dolphins. No, we’re not making this up.

The Mexican government plans to deploy dolphins trained by the U.S. Navy. Mexico's environment minister, Rafael Pacchiano, said the trained dolphins will be sent out to herd vaquita porpoises into a wildlife refuge. The project is slated to begin in September.

Well, we hope Flipper and his pals are good at their jobs. They might be the vaquitas’ last hope.