Update written by Mel Cosentino.
Many things happened since July. The Vaquita CPR (Consortium for Vaquita Conservation, Protection and Recovery) went live in mid-October with the mission to capture and re-locate vaquitas to a temporary sanctuary. The emergency action plan was led by the Mexican government and supported by a consortium of marine mammal experts from over a dozen organizations worldwide. It was a desperate measure to a desperate situation. There are fewer than 30 vaquitas left.
On the 20th of October, the team announced they successfully located and rescued the first vaquita, a small calf. The little vaquita had to be released after showing signs of stress. But there was hope. The dolphins were able to locate vaquitas and the team of the top experts in their field were able to capture them for relocation. Just two weeks later, on the 5th of November a new announcement was made. The second vaquita they rescued had died. This time an adult female.
The team was devastated, and the world started to feel their pain. The pain of losing an entire species. The Vaquita CPR was cancelled. For the first time, vaquitas made the international news and were all over social media. However, the 65 experts from 9 countries did not receive the support one would expect. Nor the vaquitas, not yet.
Scientists have been asking for help for decades. They have been ignored for decades. The main threat to vaquita survival is being accidentally trapped in gillnets, especially those (illegally) targeting totoabas. Totoabas are a delicacy that reach enormous prices in black markets in Asia. In an attempt to attack the problem at its base, a gillnet ban was introduced in 2015 and made permanent in June 2017. But legislations are no game changer. Compliance and enforcement remain low. All there is left now is public pressure.
If we want the vaquita to survive, efforts must multiply now.
And you can help.