March 10, 2023 By Charlie Inglis
Meet the vaquita. It is an adorable, tiny porpoise. It also happens to be the most endangered animal in the world! With only 10 individuals left of their species, these small cetaceans are very near extinction. Terrible, right? Here is some more information about vaquitas.
The vaquita grows up to 5 feet long, with females slightly larger than males. They weigh up to 120 pounds. Vaquitas have been driven to live only in the northern Gulf of California. The biggest problem for these animals is gillnets. Gillnets are huge nets that are used for mass fishing. They work well, but also accidentally catch a lot of sharks, whales, dolphins, and porpoises. And that includes vaquitas. Their population has been cut from around 700 in the 1990s, to 10 in 2022. It is a drastic change, and one that demands action from people like you.
You may be thinking, “I’ve never heard of these small creatures, and they live all the way on the other side of the country! How on earth am I supposed to help them?!” Well, believe it or not, there are ways you can help vaquitas in your everyday life here in Hingham. Here’s how:
- Cut up plastic six-pack rings before throwing them away. Vaquitas eat small fish, cephalopods, and crustaceans. If these rings end up in the ocean, they get tangled around fish’s necks and strangle the poor animals. Not only does it kill the fish, it also means less food for the vaquita.
- Spread the word about vaquitas! If more people know about this cause, more pressure is put on the Mexican government to do something. Vaquitas are largely under the control of the Mexican government, so they need to take action.
- Sign this petition: Petition · Save Mexico’s Vaquita Porpoise from Imminent Extinction! · Change.org to help vaquitas! Over 300,000 people have already signed it, including me, and it will be sent to the Mexican government to try to persuade them to increase their efforts to save these animals.
- Shop sustainably! Buy sustainable seafood, especially shrimp and fish. This will help the vaquita very much, as they eat these animals. Plus, it will help sea life in general.
- Try not to buy shrimp caught in Mexico! Vaquitas eat enormous quantities of these, and if we try to cut down on the amount of Mexican shrimp being taken from them, they will have more food to eat. This will lead to more reproduction, and then a larger species.
These are some important and easy ways you can help this adorable porpoise. Now that you know these ways to lend a helping hand, please use them! Vaquitas are very secretive animals, so there is not a lot of news about them. However, if you start using these tips, you’ll help the vaquita population greatly. So please use these tidbits, and spread the word. Vaquitas need you, so the time to act is now!