Nature & Environment
US Navy dolphins set to help save porpoises
By T.K. Randall
July 1, 2017 · 4 comments
The dolphins had been trained to locate missing divers. Image Credit: CC BY-SA 2.0 Vince Smith
The Mexican government is hoping to use specially trained dolphins to save the vaquita porpoise.
Native to the northern part of the Gulf of California, this critically endangered species has been brought to the brink of extinction due to the use of illegal gillnets to catch totoaba.
The world's smallest porpoise species, vaquitas have been declining in number for years and despite extensive efforts to catch those responsible for deploying the nets, their population has continued to drop at an alarming rate to the point where there are now only around 30 individuals remaining.
Now in a last-ditch effort to save the species, the government of Mexico is deploying dolphins trained by the US Navy in the hope that they can herd the porpoises in to a nearby marine refuge.
"We've spent the past year working alongside the US Navy with a group of dolphins they had trained to search for missing scuba divers," said Environment Minister Rafael Pacchiano.
"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."
Whether it will be enough to stop the species from going extinct however remains to be seen.
Source: BBC News
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Dolphin, Vaquita Porpoise
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