Many in Pakistan – except the marine biologists – might not have heard the term vaquita. In all honesty, despite taking pride in being fairly well-read, until a week ago, I too had no clue what a vaquita was. However, now that I do know, I feel obligated to inform whoever is willing to read the next few paragraphs and ask for their help to save this endangered specie.
Vaquita, literally meaning “Little Cow” (funny name, I know!) is the world’s rarest specie of marine mammals and the smallest one that belongs to this category of animals.
Interestingly, it wasn’t until 1958 that this adorable creature was first discovered and documented by scientists. However, within the span of 50 years since its discovery, it is almost extinct. And by “almost extinct” I don’t mean that we have a few decades left to save it. By “almost extinct” I mean that we only have a few months left before every living vaquita is killed because according to WWF only 30 of these wondrous creatures remain alive!
The main reason for this drastic fall in the number of vaquitas is because of the illegal fishing practices in Mexico’s Gulf of California. Local fishermen often access marine protected areas to catch shrimps and corvina fish. However, this lovely animal often also gets caught in their gillnets and consequently drowns to its death.
Now these gillnets are the leading cause of harming many other marine creatures and a lot of people around the world are asking for them to be banned. However, compared to other means of fishing, gillnets do the work much more efficiently and so there is a lobby fighting to keep them in practice.
While I understand that there is not much that you and I can do to physically save these beautiful animals, what we can however do is support organizations that are trying very hard at this very moment to ensure that 2018 does not become the year the vaquita ceases to exist.
Please play your role because every creation is beautiful and has a right to exist!