I am deeply saddened by the news that there are likely less than 100 Vaquitas remaining on the planet, with under 25 of them being reproductive females. The International Vaquita Recovery Team, CIRVA, has just published the findings of their 5th meeting here: http://www.iucn-csg.org/index.php/2014/08/02/the-vaquita-new-report-from-cirva-released/, with more information coming soon from the Mexican Presidential Commission on Vaquita Conservation at this site: http://www.iucn-csg.org/.
The issue has quickly become a worldwide news story, being covered by the Washington Post (below) and ABC News among others.
The reason of their decline remains the same: accidental capture due to illegal gillnet fishing. But it now appears that there is a culprit more damaging than the shrimp fishery: Totoaba. A critically endangered species in its own right, Totoaba has been illegally hunted for years due to the incredibly high market value of their swim bladders. Particularly in China, these organs are a delicacy that can fetch over $10,000 per bladder. The temptation is simply too good to be true for the local fishermen, no matter how illegal it may be. As one of NOAA’s Vaquita experts Jay Barlow says, “With two days of fishing, you can buy a new pickup truck.”:
We all feel a little hopeless right now. It seems almost impossible to save the Vaquita. But I’m here to tell you that the fight is not over. Everybody has fought too hard for too long to give up now. These next few years could go down in history as the biggest success story in conservation history if we can turn things around. It is now in the hands of our governments, so we need to do something to get them to permanently remove gillnets from the Vaquita’s range. Hopefully there are some petitions in the works, so in the meantime, please use social media to our advantage. Spread the word in any way you can. It will be unexplainably devastating if we lose the Vaquita, so please, everybody, we need to work together and do something to save everyone’s favorite little Mexican porpoise. Check back here for the latest updates on the situation. Thank you.
Here is the email I received from Beth Whittenbury (mother of William, Muskwa Club President) who so graciously helped me out by setting up and attending my “book signing” today:
Today went really well. They made two sales of your book, but I talked to about 20 people. I gave them all flyers with your blog address and also asked them to “like” the Muskwa video so that we can start to show the Mexican government how many people actually care about the Vaquita. You might want to ask friends and family to do the same as I do think it will make a big difference. Also, if you haven’t already subscribed to “TheMuskwaclub” YouTube channel, please do so that we can start streaming videos when we get to 100 subscribers. Everyone I talked to couldn’t believe a 13-year-old wrote and illustrated the book. They were also really impressed that you were donating back your proceeds to help save the Vaquita. Really good press for you! Also, I was wearing your “Save the Vaquita” shirt. 🙂
The event today was covered by both our local TV channel and our local paper. Your book should be prominently featured both ways over the next two weeks. So, overall, I would say it was a very successful day!”
The table that Mrs. Whittenbury manned to raise awareness for the Vaquita and my book.
I cannot thank Mrs. Whittenbury enough for all the help she has given me with the book, and I might not have even gotten it published in the first place if she didn’t refer me to CreateSpace.
Also, today my 9-year-old sister made the clay Vaquitas below. Please feel free to send me pictures of your Vaquita crafts at email@example.com (especially your recipes) so I can post them on this blog. Thanks!
My book is now being sold in the Point Vicente Interpretive Center! The Center, located in Rancho Palos Verdes, California, adjacent to the Point Vincente Lighthouse, is dedicated to teaching its visitors about the history of the Palos Verdes Peninsula. They hosted one of Muskwa’s Vaquita tables on July 6 for National Save the Vaquita Day, and have been a very useful ally in our efforts. They will now be holding my book in their gift shop!
In addition, the gift shop will be having a book signing this Saturday, November 9, from 11:00 am to 1:00 pm, where you can pick up a pre-signed copy of my book (I obviously cannot be there, considering I am 2,726 miles away). If you live in the area, please stop by to explore the Center and get a copy of the world’s first Vaquita book!
Also, please subscribe to TheMuskwaclub on YouTube. They have some great videos, including The Vanishing Vaquita. You do not need to have a YouTube account to subscribe. If they reach 100 subscribers, they can begin some awesome new projects that will be very entertaining and informative.
Good news: the Vaquita is near the top of a recently published list that is the international buzz in the nature world.
Bad news: the list is of the 100 most endangered species on earth.
It is no secret to us that the Vaquita is critically endangered, nor am I trying to make it one. If it is so endangered, than it might as well be on this newly-created list. Thankfully it is on the list, and conveniently near the top so people won’t get bored of the list before they get to the Vaquita. Here is the link to one site with the list: The Guardian, and the Vaquita is the 15th one down. My one complaint, however, is that besides being able to infer that it lives in the ocean, someone who doesn’t know about the Vaquita will not know that it’s even a porpoise. Aside from that, this list is good for publicity for the Vaquita and many other troubled species.
An amazing print of a Vaquita by Noah Scalin can be purchased at http://endangeredspeciesprintproject.com/artwork/1618544_VAQUITA.html. 100% of profits go to vivavaquita.org! Check it out!