Today I got a surprise package in the mail from Dr. Thomas Jefferson. He sent me 7 books (some written by him, some about the Vaquita, and even one about the Baiji), a brochure, and a sticker as a thank you for me sending him 20 of my books. He has been so amazing to me, from answering my first ever Vaquita question, to sending me magazines and brochures in the mail. I just want to thank him for everything and wish him and the rest of the team the best of luck on Expedition Vaquita 2013, which begins Monday.
Should we let the Vaquita go extinct?
I had to close my eyes and calmy inhale to even make it through the article. The answer is absolutely, positively, no way in the world, not in a million years, no. He says that perhaps we should let the Vaquita go in order to get the fishermen on board with saving other endangered species of the Gulf. I am not sure if/how that would even work, but there is no way that the scientists and conservationists who have worked on saving the Vaquita for their entire careers would just let the Vaquita ‘slip away.’ I am not arguing with the fact that the Vaquita is in a tough situation right now, and that there has been phenomenal effort by the Mexican government to seemingly little avail. I am not arguing with the fact that the Vaquita is a life-changing ‘nuisance’ to the fishermen that they will likely never see in their entire lives, yet they have been very cooperative with NGOs and the government for the most part.
But this is about the big picture. The Vaquita cannot be a canary in a coal mine. It is not an option for us to learn from our mistakes on the Vaquita. We have already lost the Baiji because of human activities. Those beautiful dolphins were sacrificed so we could learn what not to do with an endangered species. The Vaquita is the test. If we can save the Vaquita, we can do anything. Tigers, pandas, rhinos, polar bears, and every other endangered species can benefit from us saving the Vaquita, not letting it go extinct. The Baiji has already filled that role.
It is also about the little picture. The Vaquita simply deserves to live. If you were born before 1958, then the Vaquita was discovered in your lifetime. Now it could go extinct within the next few years. Your life could completely encompass our knowledge of the existence of an entire species. We definitely do not want that. The Vaquita as an animal is extremely unique. We will absolutely never have a species like the Vaquita again if we lose Phocoena sinus.
So the real question is, “Now that we know the Vaquita can’t go extinct, how are we going to save it?” In June, an enormous step was taken by the Mexican government in the form of a new regulation that will phase out all shrimp gillnets to Vaquita-safe trawls within the next 3 years. This is great news, but this doesn’t mean our work here is done. The government still has to pull through with their promise, as well as develop safe trawls for finfish, not just shrimp. For now, you can help the Vaquita by raising awareness, not buying seafood caught in gillnets, and raising money towards the switch-out program. For more details, visit https://vlogvaquita.com/2013/07/14/update-the-big-3/.
So my point is, there is no way we can give up, especially after all this time and effort. This is where we need to explore the limits of human teamwork to save something that’s not a human. The Vaquita has never done anything to us, so why should we accept murdering every last one? This adorable, innocent little porpoise deserves every drop of blood, sweat, and tears we can squeeze out of ourselves. And even if the Vaquita does eventually go extinct, I could not live with myself knowing that we didn’t try our hardest to rescue it.
We need to at least, as my tennis coach would say, go down swinging.
I’ll admit, I got a little teary-eyed after looking at this picture. Please don’t let the Vaquita follow in the footsteps of its unfortunate cousin, the Baiji. You can help by purchasing a t-shirt here: https://campaign.customink.com/savethevaquita.
Yet another poster (in Spanish) about the Vaquita. I believe it is by Memuco.
Here is another amazing poster from Memuco: http://visual.ly/unnatural-disasters. It really puts into perspective how endangered the Vaquita really is. The poster also features the Baiji (previous post) and the Yangtze River Finless Porpoise with a lot of information on each cetacean.
The only cetacean known to go extinct due to human activity is the Baiji, Lipotes vexillifer. In 2006, after an intense, 6-week search in all of the Baiji’s historic range, it was considered extinct. Don’t let the Vaquita be the second. Learn more about the Baiji by clicking on the links below.