The vaquita remains an endangered species, and there are several causes that contribute to this worrying situation.
The vaquita is a species of cetacean recognized as one of the smallest in the world. Its habitat is in the northern Gulf of California. Sadly though, the vaquita is critically endangered due to several factors that threaten its survival.
Despite the efforts of various institutions to preserve the environment, there are different natural factors and human actions that make it difficult to achieve this goal.
Discovery of the vaquita dolphin
The vaquita dolphin, also known as the sinus foci, is a species that for a long time was little known. Its first description dates back to the first half of the 20th century, when three skulls were found near San Felipe, Baja California. From this discovery, it was possible to begin to better understand this fascinating marine species. After several years, a skeleton was discovered when whole stranded specimens were collected. However, it wasn’t until 1958 that a formal description of this discovery was made.
After scientists discovered the species in 1950, they quickly realized that it was endangered. In 1975, Mexico took steps to protect the animal, declaring it an endangered species and banning its fishing.
Attempts to save the vaquita dolphin
In 2005, the Mexican government took the initiative to establish a protected zone in the gulf to conserve vaquitas. Unfortunately, however, the population continued to decline and in 2008 there were only around 200 individuals left. This worrying trend has not stopped and in 2016 the vaquita population dropped to less than 30 individuals.
Faced with the difficulty of protecting vaquitas in their natural habitat, the government has taken an unprecedented step in trying to protect them in captivity. This demonstrates the commitment to the preservation of this endangered species. In 2017, a meeting was held in Mexico that brought together scientists, veterinarians and conservationists from different countries. The purpose of this event was to establish the VaquitaCPR project, a major initiative aimed at moving half of the vaquitas to protected maritime peninsulas in order to ensure their safety and survival. This project required a significant economic investment for its execution.
During the VaquitaCPR project, the team was able to capture two female vaquitas with the intention of protecting and preserving this endangered species. However, due to the signs of stress they showed, the decision was made to release them. Sadly, one of them did not survive despite best efforts. As a result, the VaquitaCPR project came to an end after this disheartening event.
Despite efforts to find solutions to prevent the extinction of certain species, there are multiple causes, both natural and caused by human intervention, that negatively impact them. Some of them are as follows:
Causes of Threatened Vaquita
1. The vaquita is endangered mainly due to illegal fishing and trawling. These activities pose a threat to their survival, as they trap these specimens in devastating nets, such as trawls. What caused this situation was the fishing of other species with which it shares a habitat.
2. Contamination of vaquita habitat is an issue of concern today. The world is experiencing high levels of pollution and the sea is no exception to this problem. Contamination of the habitat of living beings is directly related to the use of pesticides and fertilizers in nearby agricultural areas. These chemicals can negatively affect water quality and cause interruptions in the supply of vital resources, such as food and nutrients, necessary for the survival of the organisms that live there.
3. Climate change is closely related to habitat pollution. This phenomenon is due to the increase in water temperature. Migration is a common phenomenon in many species, and the vaquita is no exception. It is very likely that this species will also be forced to migrate in search of new areas to inhabit. However, this process can increase competition with other species and generate rivalry for available spaces.
4. The reproduction of vaquitas faces difficulties due to the decrease in the total number of individuals. This reduction in the number of specimens also affects opportunities for interaction between animals, which has a direct impact on the size of their populations.
According to a census carried out by the NGO Sea Shepherd Conservation Society and the National Commission for Protected Natural Areas (CONANP), it is estimated that there are currently between 10 and 13 vaquitas from May 10 to 26, 2023. seek more efficient alternatives to protect and preserve endangered species.
With information from: https://www.milenio.com/