We Need Your Help To #SaveTheVaquita
July 9, 2016
With an estimated 60 left in the wild, vaquitas are the most endangered marine mammal on the planet.
Being one of the smallest cetaceans, at less than 5 feet long and 120 lbs., vaquita are near impossible to spot. In fact, there have been less than 100 confirmed sightings of vaquita - ever.
Its tiny, isolated population makes the vaquita highly vulnerable to human activities. Vaquita often are caught in nets set to catch other animals. This "incidental take" is the primary reason for the vaquita's endangered status. Each year, 25-30 vaquita drown in gill nets and without the help you and conservation organizations like SeaWorld they will likely go extinct in just a few years.
The endangered status of the vaquita is closely related to one gillnet fishery in particular: totoaba. Like the vaquita, the totoaba - an endangered species itself - lives only in the upper Gulf of California. For many years, totoaba fishing in the Gulf of California continued with no controls. Mexico banned totoaba fishing in 1975. The U.S. has banned imports of totoaba since 1977. But demand for totoaba as a food fish keeps the illegal fishery profitable. In 1990, the International Whaling Commission (IWC) determined that the totoaba fishery is responsible for the vaquita's endangered status.
Between 2011 and 2015, 8 AZA-accredited zoos & aquariums took part in a variety of field conservation projects targeting the vaquita. Over these past five years, the AZA community invested over $100,000 in vaquita conservation efforts, across nearly nine reported projects.The projects consisted of contributions to AZA SAFE (e.g. through assistance with development of the Vaquita Conservation Action Plan), population monitoring through attempts to obtain photo and video footage of the species, capacity building and education in fishing-dependent communities, and promoting seafood caught using vaquita-friendly alternative fishing gear.
You can help, too!
By signing this letter to U.S. Ambassador to Mexico Roberta Jacobson you can show your support for the permanent ban of the use of gillnets in the Gulf of California and the increase in enforcement against illegal fishing.
SeaWorld has been very active in vaquita conservation efforts. In support of International Save the Vaquita Day this Saturday and through the weekend, SeaWorld has set up a texting challenge. Anyone can text #helpVAQUITAS to 21212. For each text, $1 will be donated by SeaWorld to the SeaWorld & Busch Gardens Conservation Fund in support of vaquita conservation.