World’s Smallest Porpoise Is on the Verge of Extinction

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The world’s smallest and rarest , the , is on the verge of extinction. A mere 60 remain, the Mexican government announced Friday.

Their numbers have dropped 40 percent in two years, down from 97 in 2014, due in large part for illegal fishing for another species.

The totoaba, a fish whose swim bladder is highly prized as a delicacy in Asia, is caught using prohibited gillnets. Those nets have holes that are just the right size to trap—and drown—vaquitas, too.

Vaquitas are on the verge of becoming the fifth marine mammal species to go extinct in modern times. Photograph by FLIP NICKLIN, MINDEN PICTURES/NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC CREATIVE

Millions of dollars have been spent trying to save the vaquita, which lives only in the upper Gulf of California, from imposing a ban on gillnet fishing in the area to surveillance by the Mexican government, military, and environmentalists, to compensation for local fishermen to not fish in that area.

These newly released numbers show it’s still not enough. The World Wildlife Fund in Mexico has been active in trying to save these shy animals.

“Despite all the best efforts, we are losing the battle to stop totoaba fishing and save the vaquita,” said Omar Vidal, the CEO of WWF-México in a press release. “We can still save the vaquita, but this is our last chance.”

Vidal says a more stringent fishing and widespread fishing ban, more support for vaquita-safe fishing gear, and cooperation among Mexico, the United States, and China to crack down on totoaba must happen soon.

“We are on the brink of driving the fifth marine mammal species to extinction in modern times,” said Vidal.

This article was first published by National Geographic om 16 May 2016.


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Kathleen Colley

Absolutely correct, Linda. The Chinese, Vietnamese, Koreans and other "species" in South East Asia are to blame for the extinction of most of the animals that are now threatened. From the magnificent beasts in Africa to the smallest birds and creatures like the tortoises and primates in Madagascar. People will rant that I am racist, let them. These are the facts and being politicaly correct is not going to help these animals one bit. We need to be more vociferous and unafraid to tell it like it is!

Linda French

Another species going to extinction to the thanks from the Asians and their perverse craving for oriental medicine, and foods – with no thought to what they are doing to our wildlife on earth or the oceans. This will not end ever. Until they want to get themselves educated and give up their barbaric culture our wildlife is doomed. When they run out of one, they will find another species to destroy. Not a very compassionate group when it comes to wildlife and this folks is the real "Inconvienant Truth".