Perhaps You have seen some of the many campaigns online about the small Marine Porpoise and wandered: “Why on earth spend so much energy on a specie with only (to this date) 15 individuals remaining in nature ? The specie is doomed to go extinct!"
But there is a very good reason for the awareness campaigns. Here is why :
The Vaquita has become a symbol of humans ignorance to the impact we have on the Ocean.
The specie has been followed quite closely since 1997, where approximately 600 individuals still roamed the Ocean. But mainly because the fishing industry, the specie has declined rapidly in numbers.
In 2008 an estimated 340 was still alive. Then in 2015 barely 60 Vaquitas were left in the wild. It was also in 2015 the first mass hype campaigns focusing on the Vaquita began.
At first the campaigns were created to pursue saving the specie from extinction - and it did have a huge impact!
In 2015 the Mexican government banned most types of fishing nets in the Vaquita’s habitat area, most likely, due to the massive awareness campaigns happening worldwide. In fact, this overnight movement, almost shutting down the fishing industry in this area, meant many people were left without their livelihood. And, the government even started a compensation program for the fishermen, paying them to stay ashore.
This did lower the tempo for the properly still coming extinction of the specie, but, most importantly, it helped to lit up the problem that had been clear as the light of day for many years, but had been shut out by the curtains of ignorance : We, humans, are the major reason for the 5’th mass extinction.
The following years, pictures of Vaquitas in tangled in gill nets, or drowned stranded on beaches showed up on various social media’s.
Today, the specie barely exists. With the remaining 15 Vaquitas, and a 90% decline since 2011, the future unfortunately does not look bright for this specie, even though there has been created massive awareness campaigns since 2015.
Despite the tragic fact of most likely loosing this specie, -this is never the less still an extremely important case !
What makes this an important case :
The Vaquita is a specie we have followed while it has moved closer and closer to extinction. It serves as a wake up call, for our acknowledgement on humans impact on the Oceans health. It has also shown us, that we have a say as Conscious Consumers, and that we can contribute to create change as individuals.
So even though the outcome of this case, has not been saving the specie, it has taught us so much more, and has been an extremely important part of the road to “make the ocean great again”.
By Blue Reporter, Naja Bertolt Jensen