Vaquita and Mexico Sanctions

Fighting For the Last Vaquitas, Sea Shepherd


*In the midst of a horrid Man made accelerating Sixth Mass Extinction, the direct action conservation movement, Sea Shepherd, is leading the charge to save the most critically endangered marine mammal on the globe – a porpoise call the vaquita.

This gorgeous 4-foot, 100-pound member of the cetacean clan (whales, dolphins, porpoises) is teetering on extinction.

Image credit: HuffPo

These secretive marine mammals reside in the upper Sea of Cortez near the mouth of the mighty Colorado River.

The vaquitas have been sideswiped by Man at every possible turn. For more than a century, Man made long lasting toxicity has poured into this United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) World Heritage marine wonder. All life therein contains horrid poisons.

Subsidized planet-cooking fossil fuel heat has altered plant life and thereby disrupted the vaquitas food source. That heat has also induced re-occurring algal blooms, which have exposed these porpoises to high levels of domoic acid, a deadly nerve poison from the warm water plants.

And then there are poachers, organized by the mafia profiteering on the oriental black market by supplying swim bladders of an indigenous sea bass, or, totoaba, for purported medicines. Incidentally, swim bladders contain no medicinal properties.

Those totoaba bladders sell for more than a gram of crystal meth, cocaine, fentanyl or any other brain-destroying illicit drugs –  $20,000 a kilo.

800 animals in one net.”

In order to hideously annihilate the totoaba for a pile of untaxed cash, the poachers erect stationary curtains of death, or, in fishermen parlance, gillnets.

Such heartbreaking looting of Nature, a dead vaquita as bycatch from an illegal gillnet along with a sought after totoaba. Image credit: Omar Vidal

The mafia is not only wiping the glorious totoaba off the map, but also, they have indiscriminately ensnared and suffocated the remaining population of vaquitas in their ocean-killing fishing nets.

At the dawning of the 21st century, my colleagues estimated there were about 600 vaquitas left, mostly in the upper gulf. And then the totoaba poaching free-for-all began, an unadulterated rape of the Sea of Cortez. There may only be a dozen vaquitas left in the sea now.

vaquita in net
A heinous bycatch of loathsome poaching, a dead masterpiece vaquita. Image credit: Cristian Faezi

The only way to protect the remaining vaquitas and totoabas from the onslaught of rapacious poachers and crazed cash-rich mafia is to remove all illegal nets and end fisheries before there’s nothing left in the sea.

In comes the next generation of direct action marine conservation to the rescue. Sea Shepherd is performing a remarkable life-sustaining service by both confiscating these beastly nets and working with the Mexican Navy to ensure the arrest of the poachers.

It’s a formidable and relentless task. Against all odds, Sea Shepherd, with its intrepid vegan crews, is fighting to save the last vaquitas.

It’s also up to each of us to lend a helping hand. This Christmas give the miracle of life to the few remaining vaquitas, our brethren, by supporting Sea Shepherd’s Operation Milagro V.

Image Credit: Jennifer Parkhurst

Ladies and gentlemen, extinction means forever. Resist. We must not go quietly into this ghastly impoverished future!





Dr. Reese Halter

Dr Reese Halter is an award-winning broadcaster, distinguished conservation biologist and author.

Dr Reese Halter’s latest book is
Love! Nature

Tweet @RelentlessReese


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