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Tuesday, April 4, 2017

Now or Never for the Vaquita

Over the past few weeks, the Association of Zoos and Aquariums has been quietly lobbying its members for financial support for what may be the most desperate conservation story of the century.  With over $1,000,000 in contributions from zoos and aquariums, AZA is joining the Mexican government in unveiling VaquitaCPR - the "CPR" standing for "Conservation, Protection, and Recovery."  It's the last real chance to save the world's smallest cetacean, and it's going to be a hard one.

The vaquita has almost been entirely wiped out by gill nets strung out to capture drum fish for Chinese markets.  Last year, there were about 60 vaquita left in the world.  Now, there are about half of that.  The plan calls for the capture and relocation of the tiny porpoises to a small, protected marine sanctuary in the hope that, safe from gill nets, they can replenish their numbers.

I'm not optimistic, to be honest.  Vaquita have never been kept in zoos or aquariums and we know very little about their needs in captivity.  There are major questions as to whether they will breed.  It's doubtful if there are even enough left to be able to rebuild the population, or whether they canv be captured at all.  Lots of doubts... and only one certainty.  That certainty is that, if nothing is done now, vaquitas will go extinct.  Very soon.

All other options for saving this species have failed.  AZA's plan is a risky one, but if it isn't implemented - and soon - it'll be too late to try anything else.  Good luck.

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