Save the Vaquita Porpoise From Extinction

Save the Vaquita Porpoise From Extinction

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Joseph Clift started this petition to Mexican Government

Hello everyone.  My name is Joseph Clift and I live in Des Moines Washington, a town just a short drive from Seattle. The best part of where I live is that my town is nestled right next to Puget Sound, an estuary that is fed in from the pacific ocean. During the week I volunteer at an aquarium that sits on the sound, called the MaST Center.  It holds over 250 species native to the sound. After volunteering at the MaST for four years, I've seen many species of marine mammals that face endangerment or even extinction for multiple reasons. For some species, it is because of the aftermath of the fur trade, resulting in a slow recovery. For others, it's more recent problems, like overfishing, pollution, or ocean acidification.

All too often, we don't see the impact our actions have on animals until they are gone.  This is extremely apparent with the endangerment of marine animals. According to RedList, a website that tracks animal endangerment, 30% of sharks and rays. 33% of reef corals and 27% of crustaceans face extinction. All of these percentages of animals can be wiped off the face of the earth if we continue acting selfishly.

One marine mammal on the verge of extinction is the vaquita porpoise. The vaquita is the smallest marine mammal, native to Mexican waters. It is the rarest marine mammal, and the second most endangered animal on the planet, ahead of even the Amur leopard and Javan rhinoceros. The number one spot goes to the northern right whale, which was hunted nearly to extinction when whaling was popular.

However, whaling occurred in the 1800s. Surely this means humans have learned from their mistakes and are making an effort to conserve the only place these animals can call their home. In reality, while we have the endangered species act, this doesn't prevent selfish human nature from coming full circle, especially for countries that don't take action against endangerment.  This is especially true for the right whale, which hasn't received any attention or attempts at conservation.  However, this doesn't just apply to animals that nearly faced extinction in the past. The vaquita porpoise lost 90% of its original population from 2011-2016.

Currently, only up to 19 vaquitas are still alive. This is just a fraction of the estimated population from 1997, which stood at 600. The reason for their near extinction is the use of gill-nets. These fishing nets are used to illegally hunt for another endangered species, the totoaba, a fish sought after for its swim bladder. The majority of the demand for this fish comes from China, where it is considered to be a food with medicinal value. When the nets are put in the water, animals like the vaquita porpoise become tangled inside of them and can't get out, quickly resulting in drowning. Any that may survive swim away with extreme injuries.

The vaquita isn't the only species accidentally caught in these nets. Over 300,000 porpoises, dolphins, and whales become entangled in these nets annually and drown, or swim away with critical injuries. This statistic doesn't include animals like sea turtles and seals, who suffer the same fate. However, after seeing how threatening this is to marine animals, it isn't clear if the Mexican government has taken any action since this information came out a few years ago.

The endangerment of the vaquita is an indicator of endangerment for all animals that get stuck in these nets, especially for marine mammals. If the vaquita goes extinct, marine life in a similar situation will likely experience the same fate. Conversely, ending gill-netting and choosing not to repeat history will prevent hundreds of thousands of unnecessary deaths to marine mammals each year. If we're going to reverse our mistakes, let's start here! Please sign this petition to urge the Mexican government to end gill-netting in the Sea of Cortez and save the vaquita porpoise.

0 have signed. Let’s get to 2,500!
At 2,500 signatures, this petition is more likely to get picked up by local news!