The vaquita is highlighted as one of ten signature species by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) as part of the Saving Animals From Extinction (SAFE) Initiative. The Tulsa Zoo is now helping support the urgent crisis facing the world’s smallest cetacean, and the most endangered marine mammal in the world today the vaquita porpoise. It is estimated that there are fewer than 30 remain. The vaquita is found only in the northernmost regions of the Gulf of California, Mexico also known as the Sea of Cortez, which is barely 50 miles from the Arizona border.
Gulf of California, Mexico
Species Recovery, Saving from possible extinction
An international conservation action plan has been developed by a team of experts to temporarily remove some of the remaining animals from their threatening environment and create a safe haven for them in the northern Gulf of California. Under the plan, animals will be located, rescued, housed, and cared for by animal specialists and veterinarians from Mexico and the United States. Implementation of this ambitious conservation plan is estimated to cost more than $3.7 million in 2017 alone and could take several years. There is an urgent need for immediate funding and recently $1 million dollars has been secured to keep the project timeline on track. The AZA community is also helping with the development of a program that promotes the establishment and enforcement of a permanent gillnet ban and implements the testing of alternative fishing gear. Once some type of legislation can go into effect, the hope is that the vaquita will be released back to their habitat that is free of gillnets.
To find out more about this project go to AZA SAFE-vaquita.