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Effort To Capture Remaining Vaquita Porpoises Continues

Sea Shepherd Conservation Society
An entangled vaquita porpoise is shown in this undated photo.
Effort To Capture Remaining Vaquita Porpoises Continues
Effort To Capture Remaining Vaquita Porpoises Continues GUEST: Barbara Taylor, marine biologist, Southwest Fisheries Science Center

The Vaquita porpoises sometimes called the panda of the sea because it is so cute with a nice and an upturned mouth it's a miniature porpoise that only lives in the Gulf of California. Researchers say at last count there were only about 30 Vaquita porpoises left after falling victim to indiscriminate will not issued in the Gulf. A new bill in the California assembly on the desperate efforts of Marine conservation efforts ours -- are helping to save it from extinction. Joining the as father Taylor. Welcome back. Thank you much. We spoke last year about efforts to save this Marine manual -- memo. At this time there were about 60 left. At this time has dropped by half? That is right because it was a shock to all of us. Mexico had taken a really unprecedented effort to be and -- to ban Gilman's entirely which is only about 4 1/2 hours from where we sit today because we were expecting that would have a large effect and fortunately we kept monitoring using acoustics for Vaquitas and basically we got half as many clicks a year later and had to conclude after our big survey that came up with a number of 60 that have as many clicks means half as many -- Vaquitas. Tell me what is behind the decline in the population. The Fishman in the northern Gulf of California used Gilman's to catch on the defensive that comes out of that region which includes shrimp which is mainly imported to the United states and a number of and fish. The one that is really causing the very serious decline right now is an illegal fishery for a fish called the [Indiscernible] which is about the same size. It's a very big fish and it comes up into the northern Gulf to respond and it's when bladder which is the organ it uses to regulate plan C is a ported illegally to China. It is protected itself as an endangered species. All trade is illegal but it is now with some of money that it is called the cocaine of the sea. Now the Vaquita get caught up in these comments and he mentioned that Mexico currently has a ban against the use of them. Why hasn't the band been effective? I think it is just because it is such a lucrative. It is like trying to control the drug trade and people are willing to take very large risks to be able to make a lot of money. Just a few weeks ago Mexico passed a law that actually makes it a felony we could get to the 18 years in prison for capturing them. They have stepped up their enforcement again and when we see the next acoustic monitoring results next summer weather that has had an effect but unfortunately see Sheppard is out there doing what they did last year basically dragging a hook through the water and they are still finding lots of met and lots of dead animals floating around with marks on them. See Sheppard is a conservation is to keep an eye on what is going on in that region. You and other conservationists I know proposing to get a few of the remaining Vaquitas into a sanctuary. The recovery team for Vaquitas with -- proposed a two pronged approach to keep pushing the Gilman don't make the habitat safe. The reason why is because none of us believe that we can catch all of them. It will not be like condors so we have assembled a very large team of people and you can go and find more details online. It is a group of specialists and veterinarians and people who have captured every species porpoises that are going to go out there and try to capture some of them just to get them out of harms way to take them into protective sanctuaries. Do you have enough funding for that? It is a pretty expensive proposition I know they are really still going to get enough funds for us to be able to prepare the pens and facilities on land for the veterinarians to be able to care for these animals. How are the reason the funds for these -- for this operation. They have it is -- a donation button you can go to. Last I was aware there were several hundred thousand dollars toward a goal of getting $1 million before March 5 so they can start purchasing what needs to be purchased for us to go out in October in an attempt to take some of them into protective sanctuaries. Recently a bill was introduced that would ban seafood in California that was caught using Gilman's. If approved how much of an impact with this piece of legislation have? About two years ago about 2015 the president came to San Felipe and announced at two York on that down which is just about to expire and we do not know what happened when it does expire. If they allow donating to resume the legal victories -- most of the shrimp comes into the United States so it has the potential to have an impact but if they renew the ban which I suspect is the hoped-for outcome for the folks that are pushing -- the for cash hoped-for outcome for the folks that are pushing less than of course they will achieve their goal in a different way. I think it is a very appropriate analogy because of course when they took condors out of the wild there were only eight remaining. Now we have about 200 condors flying free. So it has been 30 years of the long hard struggle but if you do not save some of the animals then you are certainly not going to have a habitat that is a healthy habitat for all sorts of creatures in the northern Gulf. The Mets also capture will stop and search those checks so they are not healthy practice. My guest Barbara will be speaking tonight at the American citation society San Diego chapter meeting at Sumner Hall at the Scripps institution of August -- oceanography at 7:00. Thank you Maureen.

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.
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An international effort is underway to capture and save the last few remaining vaquita porpoises.

The critically endangered species lives in the waters off the Northern Gulf of California. Its population has dwindled due to gill nets used by poachers who are after another endangered fish, the totoaba.

Scientists estimate just 30 vaquitas are alive today.

Effort To Capture Remaining Vaquita Porpoises Continues

The National Marine Mammal Foundation is one of several groups fundraising to get the $3.7 million conservation plan off the ground. The group hopes to raise $1 million by March 15. The plan includes locating, capturing, housing and caring for the vaquitas in a sanctuary sea pen and could take several years.

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Meanwhile, San Diego Assemblymember Todd Gloria, D-San Diego, has introduced legislation that would make it illegal to possess or sell seafood from the northern Gulf of California caught using gill nets.

Barbara Taylor, a marine mammal expert with the Southwest Fisheries Science Center, will be giving a talk on the state of the vaquita, Wednesday at the American Cetacean Society-San Diego chapter meeting at the Scripps Institution of Oceanography at 7:00 pm.

The meeting is open to the public.

Taylor discusses Wednesday on Midday Edition the latest efforts to save the vaquita porpoise from going extinct.