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The smallest whale in the world dies

to become extinct, If a species, are usually not people. Most of the species disappear, without anyone noticed. The Californian porpoise, called the Vaquita – a small cow – it's different. The smallest whale in the world dies, and all to look. Every year, the latest Figures are published, how many Vaquitas in the Northern Gulf of California are still alive.

it is Precisely the macabre Countdown has been updated again. Between 10 and 22 individuals were to be found in the approximately 2200 square kilometers large retreat area of small cetaceans on the West coast of Mexico, according to the Comité Internacional para la recovery become available de la Vaquita (Cirva), a consortium of scientists who want to save the Vaquita.

In the year 2017, there were in the Region of 30 animals, 20 years ago, there were 600. The Vaquita is the most endangered marine mammals in the world. The only one and a half meters big whale is going extinct with the characteristic dark drawing around the eyes and around the mouth, hold many experts as well as secure. "I'm actually an optimist, but for the Vaquita, it looks really bad," said Sandra Altherr of the animal protection organization Pro Wildlife.

collateral damage in the hunt for the Totoaba

The Cirva-researchers are a little more hopeful: In their last excursions they had seen calves, which means that the few remaining animals reproduce still, write to you in your current report. However, Vaquitas only get every two years young. "The Problem is that the cause for the sharp decline persists," said Heike Vesper, head of marine conservation at WWF Germany.

The cause, all experts are actually in agreement, laying out the so-called Gill nets, the fishermen in the Region illegally on the bottom of the sea. The small whales get entangled and drown because they can no longer come up for air. "The colleagues on-the-spot reports that the number of illegal fishermen has increased in the Region even solid," says Vesper.

It makes the thing not better, that the fisherman don't have it apart, actually, on the Vaquita. The small cetaceans have no commercial value. You are on the verge of extinction, is, rather, a collateral of hunting a completely different animal: the harm to the Totoaba is from the family of the Croakers.

Up to 100'000 dollars on the black market

From March to December, the Totoabas are gathering in the habitat of Vaquitas to breed. They are about as big as porpoises, and exactly how the Vaquitas you feel in the muddy, nutrient-rich water of the Region.

other than the Vaquita, the Totoaba's bladder or, more precisely, its swimming, a valuable catch. Up to 100'000 dollars will be paid for on the Chinese Black market for a kilogram of Totoaba swim bladder. The Organ is considered to be a kind of miracle: Pregnant women take it to a miscarriage to prevent. In addition, it is intended to make the skin beautiful and bleeding help.

The high price leads to the fact that every year in the spring, hundreds of illegal fishermen ignore the prohibition of fishing, this is true not only for the Vaquita but also for the Totoaba. A map in the report of Cirva-researchers shows that many of the networks are even designed in the middle of the Vaquita protection area, which was actually set up as a retreat for the California porpoises.

Large-scale rescue attempt

fails try types of protectors on a regular basis, to recover the illegal nets, before the animals get caught in it. However, this is difficult because they are not seen from the ship. To find the networks, have to work, the environmental activists, among others, with sonar devices. Often they come too late. Just last week, the crew of a patrol ship of the organization Sea Shepherd was in the middle of the protected area back to a dead Vaquita in a illegal network.

Unsuccessfully, a large-scale rescue attempt in 2017. Animal rights activists and scientists worked together at the time in a project, whose goal was to catch some of the Vaquitas, to bring out of the danger zone and breed in a sea enclosure. The offspring should then be released into the wild, and the Population in the Cortés sea, like the Gulf of California is also known, to strengthen.

A rescue attempt is a Disaster

There are examples in which it is in this way it is possible to save a species in the last second. The last 22 copies of the California Condor, a huge bird of Prey with a wingspan of three meters, were captured in the 1980s, and in aviaries locked. There they lived in captivity, but in safety. In fact, the huge birds increased, and were able to be released into the wild. Today, there are about 300 wild California condors.

For the Vaquitas of the rescue attempt ended in Disaster. "It was not from the beginning tricky because you knew how the animals would react," says Vesper. The small whales are extremely shy and avoid, unlike in the case of the curious dolphins, every encounter with people. Of other porpoise species, was furthermore known for you to breathe stop, if you lift it from the water – probably as a reaction to the Stress.

little hope

Actually went, then when you try to save the Vaquitas, pretty much everything that can go wrong, what could go wrong. First, the types of guards caught a young animal, the excited but in such a way that they feared, it could die, and it is immediately free again with a lid. Next they tried it with a adult females. The animal died shortly after it had arrived in his new home, a sea enclosure.

After this event, the project was canceled. Since then, the Population has shrunk further, as the current report shows. And with each of the Vaquita, the dies decreases, the probability that the species can still be saved.

(Sunday newspaper)

Created: 06.04.2019, 18:47 PM

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