Mexico is one of the most biologically diverse countries in the world. Despite occupying only 1% of the surface of the earth, it is home to over 10% of the species that inhabit it. Many of them are endemic, meaning that they only exist in our territory.
Two clear examples of this endemic natural wealth are the vaquita and totoaba, both residents of the northern part of the Gulf of California and both endangered.
On October 22, 2015 scientists from Expedition Vaquita 2015 successfully documented the sighting of two vaquita porpoises in photos and videos. Documenting these sightings is extremely complicated, since vaquitas are shy creatures that avoid boats.
The vaquita is the world’s smallest cetacean as well as being the most critically endangered species. In 2013, the International Committee for the Recovery of the Vaquita estimated that fewer than 100 vaquitas remained and issued a last call to prevent their extinction.
In recent years, its population has declined mainly because of the combination of fishing gear and the illegal fishing of totoaba, currently in great demand in Asian markets, which pay high prices for its swim bladder.
In early 2014, the Secretariat of Environment and Natural Resources (SEMARNAT) and the National Commission of Aquaculture and Fisheries (CONAPESCA), together with fishing communities in the Upper Gulf, designed a program to meet the objective of conserving the vaquita and the totoaba.
The program conducted a study to estimate the vaquita population more accurately. The new study has been called #ExpeditionVaquita2015. So far, the study has reported sightings of 25 vaquitas, which has encouraged both scientists and the authorities.
Imagine of a vaquita porpoise. Courtesy of gob.mx