What on earth is a vaquita? It’s a critically endangered porpoise species that lives less than 400 miles from Tucson in the northwestern corner of the Gulf of California, Mexico. These animals regularly get caught in fishing gillnets which has led to a 92% decline in their population; scientists think there may be only 60 of these animals left! The gillnets are used to catch an endangered fish, the totoaba, as well as other fish and shrimp. The Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) has selected the vaquita as the focus of a Saving Animals from Extinction (SAFE) campaign, which means that zoos and aquariums around the country are working together to raise awareness about this species, and how we can help protect it. Reid Park Zoo is proud to be an active partner in this campaign.
Campaign update: In July 2016, the Mexican government permanently banned the use of gillnets in the Gulf of California. This is great news, but enforcement of this ban will be critical in making sure it’s effective. You can help raise awareness and keep this issue in the spotlight by spreading the word about the vaquita. You can also help support sustainable fishing practices by making good choices about the seafood you purchase.
Reid Park Zoo is a proud partner of the Monterey Bay Aquarium’s Seafood Watch Program. To learn more about sustainable seafood choices, pick up a Seafood Watch pocket guide on your next visit to the zoo, download the Seafood Watch app, or click here.
For more information on the conservation actions taking place to protect the last remaining vaquitas, please click here.
Reid Park Zoo’s involvement in protecting the vaquita was recently featured on KVOA’s Zoo 4 You segment. Click here to watch this short video.