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Conservationists Move To Protect Rare Mexican Porpoise

An entangled vaquita porpoise is shown in this undated photo.
Sea Shepherd Conservation Society
An entangled vaquita porpoise is shown in this undated photo.
Conservationists Move To Protect Rare Mexican Porpoise
An ocean conservation group based in the United States is returning to Mexico to keep the world’s smallest porpoise from going extinct. There are less than 50 vaquita porpoise in existence.

An ocean conservation group based in the U.S. has returned to Mexican waters in an effort to keep the world’s smallest porpoise from going extinct.

The Sea Shepherd Conservation Society is working to protect the vaquita porpoise in the Gulf of California.

The critically endangered porpoise is the world’s smallest cetacean. The 3-foot-long animals are about the same size as highly sought after fish, the totoaba.

This map of the Gulf of California shows where the endangered vaquita porpoise lives, and where the marine mammal is being killed in illegal gillnets.
Sea Shepherd Conservation Society
This map of the Gulf of California shows where the endangered vaquita porpoise lives, and where the marine mammal is being killed in illegal gillnets.

“The reason that it's being killed is that fishermen are setting these nets to catch the equally endangered totoaba fish, which is a very large fish, about the same size as the vaquita,” said Paul Watson of Sea Shepherd.

Totoaba gallbladders can sell for as much as $10,000 a pound in some Asian markets.  

Vaquitas are threatened by gill nets and long lines being used inside a marine reserve.

“We’ve been given permission to locate and confiscate gill nets and long lines, which we’ve taken a considerable number out of that area," Watson said. "So it's really a project to stop the trend toward the eradication of the vaquita. There are less than 50 of them in existence.”

Sea Shepherd crews are working with the Mexican navy to stop the smuggling activity.

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