Last week the Mexican government began efforts to save the critically endangered vaquita porpoise from extinction. With only 30 vaquitas remaining in the world, the government implemented a plan to attempt to capture the last individuals. The vaquita has never been captured or cared for before, but on Wednesday the first one was successfully caught off of San Felipe, Baja, Mexico.
The captured vaquita was thought to be about six months old. However, it wasn't in captivity for very long. After showing sign of stress, scientists decided to release it from the sea pen it was held in, and back into the Gulf of California. Dr. Lorenzo Rojas-Bracho, a senior scientist with the Mexican government who is program director of VaquitaCPR, said, “While we were disappointed we could not keep the vaquita in human care, we have demonstrated that we are able to locate and capture a vaquita.”
The objective of the program is to remove the main threat to vaquitas—gillnets. Used illegally for fishing, gillnets entangle vaquitas and are mostly to blame for the collapse of the species. The government hopes to remove this threat and then reintroduce the species back into the Gulf of California.
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