Breaking! Encouraging News Regarding Historic 1st Rescue Of An Endangered Vaquita

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Scientists with the VaquitaCPR conservation project and Mexico’s Secretary of the Environment Rafael Pacchiano announced today that they had succeeded in locating and rescuing a highly endangered vaquita porpoise yesterday.

The vaquita calf, which was being closely monitored by marine mammal veterinarians, was subsequently released after showing signs of stress.

“The successful rescue made conservation history and demonstrates that the goal of VaquitaCPR is feasible,” said Secretary Pacchiano.  “No one has ever captured and cared for a vaquita porpoise, even for a brief period of time. This is an exciting moment and as a result, I am confident we can indeed save the vaquita marina from extinction.”

Experts had planned extensively for the scenario that unfolded on Wednesday and every precaution was taken to safeguard the health of the vaquita calf, which was estimated to be about six months old.

“While we were disappointed, we could not keep the vaquita in human care, we have demonstrated that we are able to locate and capture a vaquita,” said Dr. Lorenzo Rojas-Bracho, a senior scientist with SEMARNAT, CIRVA, and VaquitaCPR Program Director. “We also succeeded in transporting one and conducting health evaluations that are part of our protocols safeguarding the animal’s health.”

Scientists returned the vaquita calf to the same spot in the Gulf of California where it was originally located and where other vaquitas were observed.

Before releasing the vaquita, various tissue samples were taken which scientists will analyze and share with colleagues at other research institutions such as the Frozen Zoo in San Diego, California, which will conduct genetic sequencing.

The precedent-setting rescue comes as SEMARNAT, the bold conservation plan led by the Mexican government to save the endangered vaquita porpoise from extinction, enters its second week of field operations.

During the first three days, scientists spotted several vaquitas using visual search methods and acoustic monitoring.  Vaquitas were repeatedly located by the VaquitaCPR ‘find’ team.

The vaquita porpoise, also known as the ‘panda of the sea,’ is the most endangered marine mammal in the world. Latest estimates by scientists who have been monitoring the vaquita for decades show there are fewer than 30 vaquitas left in the wild.  The vaquita only lives in the upper Gulf of California.

VaquitaCPR field operations, including efforts to locate and bring vaquitas into temporary sea pens, began on October 12 and are expected to continue for several weeks.

People are encouraged to donate to VaquitaCPR HERE!

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