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California porpoise close to extinction

Ecologists in Mexico can only watch helplessly as the California porpoise disappears from the waters of the Gulf of Mexico. At the moment, there are only around 30 of the species left in this body of water. It is unfortunate that this is the only place in the world where these mammals occur. The California
Published: December 10, 2017 - 08:00
Updated: July 22, 2023 - 16:07
California porpoise close to extinction

Ecologists in Mexico can only watch helplessly as the California porpoise disappears from the waters of the Gulf of Mexico. At the moment, there are only around 30 of the species left in this body of water. It is unfortunate that this is the only place in the world where these mammals occur.

The California porpoise was first described in 1958 and by the late 1990s its numbers were estimated at around six hundred individuals. By 2008, this number had fallen by more than half. In recent years, the population has declined dramatically, mainly due to human activity. Gillnet fishing has been most culpable here.

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At the moment, it is estimated that there are thirty porpoises, known as “sea pandas” because of the black circles around their eyes, left in the waters of the Gulf of Mexico. Activists have made a last-ditch effort to save this graceful and unique mammal.

The VaquitaCPR (vaquita is our porpoise) campaign, which has brought together activists, scientists and NGOs, is rushing to the rescue to prevent the extinction of another species. Even the US Navy has joined in, helping to identify surviving individuals in the Sea of Cortez (with the help of specially trained dolphins).

The saving grace for the California porpoise would be to try to create a sanctuary for it, where it could breed peacefully away from human economic activity, but also with human help. Unfortunately, these shy mammals are extremely uncooperative with humans, even when it is for their own good.

At the end of November, a porpoise placed in a specially prepared tank died as a result of prolonged stress. The stress was caused precisely by the presence of humans in its environment. Researchers suspect that this particular species is extremely negatively affected by the presence of humans and do not know how to deal with it. The death of an adult has broken the morale of the team developing the porpoise rescue plan, not to mention the cost of the programme, which has already exceeded five million dollars.

The case of the California porpoise is representative of a wider problem of saving endangered species. Typically, governments, corporations or other institutions only take an interest in a species when it is actually months away from disappearing. Time is running out for researchers, funds are limited, and the process they are trying to reverse is actually over.

A similar story has already happened, when another species of porpoise was rescued, which also lived in a completely different environment – in the Yangtze River, in China. Attempts were made to capture other porpoises and give them refuge in captivity, but the attempt failed and the porpoises were killed. This time history is repeating itself. We can only hope for a happier ending.

Source: whowhatwhy.com Photo: Wikimedia Commons

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Gosia Harasimowicz
Żeglarka, Freelance Copywriter w włąsnej działalności Copywriter.
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