US Navy Dolphins Called to Rescue
Written by SurfWriter Girls Sunny Magdaug and Patti Kishel
If you haven’t heard of vaquitas before, that’s no surprise. The vaquita, whose name in Spanish means “little cow,” is the world’s rarest marine mammal.
A little porpoise that wasn’t even discovered until 1958, it is now on the verge of extinction with its numbers steadily falling from an estimated 600 in 1997 to a small fraction of that today.
SurfWriter Girls Sunny Magdaug and Patti Kishel learned that in the past two years the vaquita population has dropped by half.
Scientists say there are less than 30 vaquitas left in the world.
Wildlife experts are desperately trying to save the remaining vaquitas, who are falling victim to illegal fishing gill nets used in the Gulf of California.
As they say, “Desperate times call for desperate measures.” In this case, the US Navy has even been called in to help in an unexpected way.
It is deploying teams of bottlenose dolphins, which are equipped with sonar and trained to locate underwater mines, to find some of the vaquitas so they can be taken to a safe spot where, it’s hoped, that they will breed.
Under the Navy’s program, vaquitas left in the wild could also be tagged with transmitters and tracked for research purposes.
In June 2017 the Mexican government instituted a permanent ban on gill nets. Dr. Anna Hall, president of the Porpoise Conservation Society, says, “If we remove the gill nets, we will likely save the vaquita.” She and other marine scientists and conservationists are calling on world governments and organizations to speak out against the nets and to support conservation efforts to protect the ocean and sea life.
Journalists know that -30- is the notation you put at the end of a story. It means The End. If we don’t take action now for the less than 30 remaining vaquitas, it will also mark The End for this species.
Don’t Write Off the Vaquita!
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