Cocaine of the sea’ threatens critically endangered vaquita DOLHIN
The vaquita marina is found only in Mexico. It is the most critically endangered sea mammal on the planet, its survival threatened by a deadly clash of interests between fishing and conservation. Scientists estimate there may be fewer than a dozen left in the wild.
We used to catch it in the 60s and 70s,” remembers Ramón Franco Díaz, president of a fishing federation in the coastal town of San Felipe, on the peninsula of Baja California. “Then the Chinese came with their suitcases full of dollars, and bought our consciences.”
They arrived wanting the totoaba’s swim bladder, an organ that helps the fish stay buoyant. In China it is highly prized for its perceived – though unproven – medicinal properties.
The world’s rarest marine mammal is on the verge of extinction due to the continuing illegal demand in China for a valuable fish organ, an undercover investigation has revealed.
There are no more than 30 vaquita – a five-foot porpoise – left in the northern Gulf of California today and they could be extinct within months, conservationists have warned. The population has been all but eradicated by pirate fishermen catching the large totoaba fish and killing the vaquita in the process.