The US Navy trained dolphins are bound to help researchers in conservation efforts for protecting other endangered species like vaquitas. These dolphins will not use their sonar as they usually do during their hunting missions when they trace underwater mines. Instead of this, they will search their relatives known as vaquitas struggling to conserve this species.
- The US and Mexico decided to use Navy trained dolphins to fuel conservation efforts for vaquitas.
- Vaquitas, dolphins’ relatives, were listed as an endangered species.
- Their number dropped to sixty individuals in the Gulf of California.
Statistics have shown that there are less than sixty vaquitas in the world which populate the Gulf of California. This gulf splits the Sonoran Desert located in Mexico. During the last twenty years, the population of vaquitas decreased listing them on the endangered species list. Many of them were drowned due to poachers who use gillnets to catch totoaba fish.
What is more, the totoaba is also an endangered species. The Chinese are very grateful for the existence of this species which is commonly used in traditional Chinese medicine. The Mexican and the US Navies together with several scientists from both countries have decided to use the help of trained dolphins to locate the population of vaquitas.
Their aim is to capture some vaquitas, keeping them safe until the area will be free from illegal fishing. Barbara Taylor is a marine mammal geneticist with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and also a vaquita conservationist. She claimed that despite their struggle to increase enforcement and ban the use of gillnets, the illegal fishing did not seize.
Thus, the recovery team thought that they need to use another approach to combat this problem. If they were not to think of another solution, then the vaquitas will probably disappear in the next two years. Taylor was also involved in acoustical surveys. This practice is used to register the sounds emitted by vaquitas which are located in the Gulf of California to try and determine their number by the number of voices heard.
Lorenzo Rojas-Bracho is the chair of the International Committee for the Recovery of the Vaquita. He stated that for the past few years, scientists from Mexico and the US worked together with the Navy to find a suitable method through which they could fuel conservation efforts to preserve the population of vaquitas.
A spokesperson for the Ministry of the Environment and Natural Resources of Mexico stated that would update the current situation as soon as they have news.
Image source: wikipedia