Photos courtesy of the Aquarium of the Pacific. Vaquita photo taken under permit (Oficio No. DR/488/08) from the Secretaria de Medio Ambiente y Recursos Naturales (SEMARNAT), within a natural protected area subject to special management and decreed as such by the Mexican Government. Credit: Paula Olson (NOAA Contractor)
The Aquarium of the Pacific joined zoos and aquariums across the nation on Saturday to raise awareness of the world’s most endangered marine mammal, the vaquita, a rare species of porpoise found only in the northern part of the Gulf of California.
Its population has dwindled drastically with a decline of more than 92 percent since 1997, according to the International Committee for the Recovery of the Vaquita. Alarmingly, approximately 60 vaquitas are left.
International Save the Vaquita Day was created to educate people of the little-known sea creature, by spreading a message of conservation, encouraging donations toward those efforts as well as supporting efforts to put an end to illegal fishing.
“We need to eat more of the right types of seafood to save marine species and support human and ocean health,” stated Kim Thompson, manager of the aquarium’s Seafood for the Future program.
The aquarium offered activities and education booths to offer information about the smallest cetacean (whale, dolphin or porpoise) on the planet. The local nonprofit said a first step anyone can take is to support businesses and restaurants that source their seafood responsibly. For more information, click here.
Part of the effort also includes calling on Mexico to extend its gillnet fishing ban, upheld last year, and to enforce illegal fishing regulations. If these actions are not taken, the vaquita could be extinct within five years, according to the committee.
Vaquita fans can also sign a letter of support at the Association of Zoos and Aquariums’ website here.
For more information about the vaquita, visit the aquarium’s website here.
City News Service contributed to this report.