The U.S. Navy have deployed trained dolphins off the coast of Mexico to try and save the world’s most endangered marine species.
The vaquita porpoise, which is known as the panda of the sea due to its dark eye rings, was only discovered in 1958, and a little over half a century later, they are in imminent danger of extinction with about 30 of them left.
The vaquita’s looming extinction is largely due to it being caught unintentionally by illegal gillnet fishing for totaba fish in the northern part of the Gulf of California.
— Leonardo DiCaprio (@LeoDiCaprio) May 11, 2017
Mexico’s Environment Minister, Rafael Pacchiano, said the dolphins would be sent to locate and herd vaquitas into a marine refuge.
Meanwhile Mexico has permanently banned gillnets in an urgent bid to save the species.
— World Wildlife Fund (@World_Wildlife) June 28, 2017
Mr Pacchiano said:
We’ve spent the past year working alongside the U.S. Navy with a group of dolphins they had trained to search for missing scuba divers.
We’ve been training them to locate the vaquitas.
We have to guarantee we capture the largest possible number of vaquitas to have an opportunity to save them.
— Leonardo DiCaprio (@LeoDiCaprio) June 30, 2017
Hollywood legend Leonardo DiCaprio has also campaigned to save the vaquitas, saying the ban was ‘great news’.
Scientists have previously proposed a plan to capture and breed vaquitas in an attempt to save them, but they are so rare that no one has ever managed to catch one alive.
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