World’s Smallest Porpoise Is on the Verge of Extinction
Vaquitas' numbers have dropped precipitously because of illegal gillnet fishing.
The world’s smallest and rarest porpoise, the vaquita, is on the verge of extinction. A mere 60 remain, the Mexican government announced Friday.
Their numbers have dropped 40 percent in two years, down from 97 in 2014, due in large part for illegal fishing for another endangered species. The totoaba, a fish whose swim bladder is highly prized as a delicacy in Asia, is caught using prohibited gillnets. Those nets have holes that are just the right size to trap—and drown—vaquitas, too.
Millions of dollars have been spent trying to save the vaquita, which lives only in the upper Gulf of California, from imposing a ban on gillnet fishing in the area to surveillance by the Mexican government,