exico’s efforts to save the critically endangered vaquita, the world’s smallest porpoise, has suffered a major blow after one of just 30 creatures thought left in the wild died soon after being captured by authorities.
The vaquita marina, known as the “panda of the sea” for the distinctive markings circling its eyes, has been pushed to the brink of extinction by illegal gillnet fishing.
The Mexican government and conservation groups have launched an unprecedented plan to save the species by taking as man
Mexico’s environment minister Rafael Pacchiano had lauded Saturday’s capture of a mature female – the first animal of reproductive age to have been caught – as “a great achievement that fills us with hope.”
The captured vaquita, however, “suffered complications” and its condition deteriorated, Pacchiano tweeted.
Attempts by authorities to release it back into the Gulf of California – the only place in the world vaquitas are found – proved unsuccessful.
Pacchiano announced the vaquita’s death on Sunday, and said “we remain committed to saving the vaquita from extinction.”
Authorities were awaiting autopsy results to understand the cause of death.
The International Committee for the Recovery of the Vaquita (CIRVA), which designed the program, said “the entire rescue team is disconsolate because of this devastating loss.”
y as possible to a protected marine reserve.