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Endangered vaquita porpoise conservation efforts will receive help from US Navy trained Dolphins
The U.S. Navy trained dolphins will help in efforts to save endangered vaquita porpoise. As per the latest data available, there are nearly three dozen endangered vaquita porpoise and the species faces high risk of extinction. Many international organizations have also been helping Mexican authorities in saving endangered vaquita porpoise. The U.S. Navy trained dolphins will be deployed in the Gulf of California. The U.S. Navy has been training dolphins and sea lions since 1960s in sniffing out mines and in navigation when lose in the open sea.
Under the mission, dolphins will use their natural sonar to search for endangered vaquita porpoises in the Gulf of California. The U.S. Navy officials informed that after finding a porpoise, dolphins will show its location by surfacing. The population of critically endangered vaquita porpoise is declining at 40 percent per year. As vaquita porpoise share waters with totoaba fish. Porpoises are suffering as they get caught accidentally by fishermen. Tatoaba fish is considered a delicacy in China and its bladder can cost as high as $100,000 per kilogram.
An international committee of expert has been tasked to save critically endangered vaquita porpoise. The committee will either catch or enclose vaquita porpoises found by dolphins to save them from extinction. The species has not been bred or kept in captivity. It could also lead to risk to the remaining vaquita porpoise as scientists are still not aware how the species would stay under captivity.
International Committee for the Recovery of the Vaquita, set up by government bodies such as the Marine Mammal Commission and conservation organizations such as the WWF said that they will continuously monitor vaquita porpoises caught under this program.
The mission will start in spring. Lorenzo Rojas-Bracho, chairman of the International Committee for the Recovery of the Vaquita said that their team is still working on finer details of the plan. They might rethink the mission in case there is risk to vaquita porpoises kept under captivity.
"At the current rate of loss, the vaquita will likely decline to extinction by 2022 unless the current gill-net ban is maintained and effectively enforced," Mr. Rojas-Bracho said.
A report published by CS Monitor informed, “The Mexican government suspended the use of gill nets in parts of the gulf, and planned to compensate fisherman who discard them. Since 2004, the Mexican government has introduced a number of measures to save the vaquita. In April 2015, it pledged $70 million to ban gill net fishing in the upper half of the gulf, and promised to pay fisherman for not using gill nets.”
At their current rate of decline, vaquita porpoise could face extinction by year 2022. The committee is working closely with conservation experts to find the best solution for vaquita porpoises.