In this 8 July 2017 file photo, a young woman with the World Wildlife Fund carries a papier mache replica of the critically endangered porpoise known as the vaquita marina, during an event in front of the National Palace in Mexico City. Researchers in Mexico were thrilled to have captured one of the few remaining vaquita porpoises on Saturday, 4 November 2017, but the adult female died after a few hours in captivity in a floating pen, raising questions about the last-ditch effort to enclose the world’s smallest porpoises to save them from extinction. Photo: Rebecca Blackwell / Associated Press

By Mark Stevenson
5 November 2017

MEXICO CITY (AP) – Researchers were thrilled to have captured one of the few remaining vaquita porpoises, but announced Sunday that the adult female died after a few hours in captivity in a floating pen, raising questions about the last-ditch effort to enclose the world’s smallest porpoises to save them from extinction.

Critics, and even supporters of the international rescue effort, knew the plan was full of risks: The small marine mammals native to Mexico’s Gulf of California have never been held in captivity, much less bred there.

But with estimates of the remaining population falling below 30, the international team of experts known as Vaquita CPR felt they had no choice. In late October, researchers captured a vaquita calf but quickly freed it because it was showing signs of stress and was too young to survive without its mother.

On Saturday, the team felt its luck had turned when it caught a female in reproductive age. Mexico’s environment secretary, Rafael Pacchiano, tweeted a photo of the vaquita in a net sling late Saturday, saying: “This is a great achievement that fills us with hope.”

The vaquita was taken to a protected floating pen in the Gulf of California in the hopes that it would survive, and possibly breed if more vaquitas could be captured.

But on Sunday, the team said, “Veterinarians monitoring the vaquita’s health noticed the animal’s condition began to deteriorate and made the determination to release.”

“The release attempt was unsuccessful and life-saving measures were administered,” the team wrote. “Despite the heroic efforts of the veterinary team, the vaquita did not survive.” [more]

Mexico says endangered vaquita porpoise died in captivity

1 comments :

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