Is it too late to save Mexico's vaquita porpoise? - TechKnow

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The vaquita is the world’s smallest cetacean, a miniature porpoise with what some describe as cartoonlike features, and dark smudges around its eyes. The marine mammal lives only in the fertile waters of the Mexico’s Gulf of California. The problem: it shares its habitat with the totoaba, a fish coveted by wealthy Chinese who believe it has mystical medicinal powers. The vaquita are trapped in illegal gillnets set for the totoaba.

In this episode, TechKnow looks at the various efforts to save this exquisite animal from extinction. The Mexican Navy has attempted to patrol the waters of the gulf to stop this illegal fishing, but the region’s poor fishermen are easily lured by the big payday. The country’s environmental agencies have declared war on gillnets. Locals make their living off of shrimping, and they prefer gillnets. Replacement nets have been distributed, but old habits are difficult to break. In addition, Techknow boards a Sea Shepherd Conservation Society vessel. Their two vessels are on 24/7 patrols to protect the vaquita from illegal fishing.

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