Monitoreo Vaquita: Saving a Species From Extinction
Updated: Mar 17, 2021
Monitoreo Vaquita seeks to offer financial assistance to a local vaquita conservationist and fisherman to pay for their life-saving cancer treatment.
Photograph by Paula Olson, NOAA
The vaquita is the most critically endangered cetacean in the world and is on the verge of extinction. Endemic to the northern Gulf of Baja California, Mexico, less than 30 vaquita marinas remain in the wild.
(Graphics by Brenda Razo)
Vaquita Conservation Efforts in Mexico
Monitoreo Vaquita is a Mexican association that supports a group of legal fishermen from San Felipe, Baja California, Mexico, that has been working with the Comité Internacional para la Recuperación de la Vaquita (International Committee for the Recovery of the Vaquita) or CIRVA in vaquita conservation programs. These fishermen have been using monitoring equipment and assisting in the retrieval of ghosts nets from the vaquita refuge since 2010.
Illegally Trafficked Swim Bladders
Monitoreo Vaquita makes use of acoustic monitoring in order to accurately size the vaquita population. Gillnets that are used to fish for the swim bladders of the totoaba—which is illegally trafficked in Asia—are the primary factory contributing to the extinction of the vaquita. Since 2008, local fishermen from the Cooperative Islas del Golfo have participated in the Monitoreo Vaquita project alongside Sea Shepherd’s Operation Milagro III.
Acoustic Monitoring of the Vaquita
Acoustic monitoring allows policymakers and scientists to form decisions about how to best protect the vaquita population. Monitoreo Vaquita has served as a model for conservation programs internationally, by involving the local community in the welfare of this endemic species.
Mexico is currently a leader in the acoustic monitoring of porpoises. Acoustic devises, or C-pods, are installed in shallow water and detect vaquita vocalization (high-frequency clicks). With this data, scientists affirm that there has been a sharp decline in the vaquita population.
For over two years, the Monitoreo Vaquita campaign has allocated donations to finance the servicing of engines, boats, and all equipment used for monitoring the vaquita. Donors have received various gifts in return—T-shirts, tote bags, vaquita plush toys, stainless steel water bottles, vaquita silver pendants, and more. All proceeds have helped with the fishermen's different needs.
Help Support Mr. Ramon Arozamena
This year, Monitoreo Vaquita is focusing on one of the key team organizers, Mr. Ramon Arozamena, who has been working on behalf of the vaquitas for 8 years. Mr. Ramon was diagnosed with colon cancer, and the cost of his care, which includes surgery and treatment, is high. Monitoreo Vaquita will donate 100% of funds from the purchase of the vaquita silver pendant to help with his treatment. The hope is that with your support, Mr. Ramon can get well and continue to care for a species on the brink of extinction—the vaquita.