Born Free Foundation - Keep Wildlife in the Wild

Endangered Vaquita dies after capture

7 November 2017

Categories: Homepage News, Dolphin News

Vaquitas are a type of porpoise found in the Gulf of California. Today, there are thought to be fewer than 30 vaquita porpoises in the wild, making this the world’s most critically endangered marine mammal. In an apparent attempt to save this endangered species, a very troubling project has begun to establish a captive breeding program in the sea of Cortez, which has involved capturing remaining individuals from the wild and placing them in a sea pen. This project is the initiative of the National Marine Mammal Foundation, the VaquitaCPR and the Association of zoos and Aquaria (AZA).

We have already learnt that one individual, a young calf, had to be released back into the wild after it did not “respond well” to its capture. And now it seems that a female vaquita of reproductive age has died just hours after being captured by scientists off San Felipe in Baja, Mexico. Following these incidents it is unknown if the project will continue.

Born Free are both shocked and saddened to learn that yet another vaquita has been captured and separated from its social group, unfortunately resulting in its death. Capture of the last few individuals of a species is an extreme measure, and extremely unlikely to succeed. This project appears ill-conceived, while the negative impact on individual vaquita could have been predicted. We can only hope that this particular effort to ‘save’ the vaquita will soon end. If there is a chance to save this species, it should not come as a result of suffering and death; while it goes without saying that efforts to save the species should have begun long ago, tackling the problems that were causing the vaquita to go extinct in the first place.

Born Free Foundation
Broadlands Business Campus, Langhurstwood Road
, Horsham, RH12 4QP, UK - Charity Reg. No. 1070906


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