A field effort to capture critically endangered vaquitas Phocoena sinus for protection from entanglement in illegal gillnets

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  • L. Rojas-Bracho, Comis Nacl Areas Nat Protegidas SEMARNAT
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  • F. M. D. Gulland, Marine Mammal Ctr
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  • C. R. Smith, Natl Marine Mammal Fdn
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  • B. Taylor, NOAA Fisheries, National Oceanic Atmospheric Admin (NOAA) - USA, Southwest Fisheries Sci Ctr, Marine Mammal & Turtle Div
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  • R. S. Wells, Chicago Zool Soc, Mote Marine Laboratory & Aquarium, Mote Marine Lab, Sarasota Dolphin Res Program
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  • P. O. Thomas, Marine Mammal Commiss
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  • B. Bauer, Natl Marine Mammal Fdn
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  • M. P. Heide-Jorgensen, Greenland Inst Nat Resources, Greenland Institute of Natural Resources
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  • J. Teilmann
  • R. Dietz
  • J. D. Balle
  • M. Jensen
  • M. H. S. Sinding, Greenland Inst Nat Resources, Greenland Institute of Natural Resources
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  • A. Jaramillo-Legorreta, Inst Nacl Ecol & Cambio Climat SEMARNAT
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  • G. Abel, Natl Marine Mammal Fdn
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  • A. J. Read, Duke Univ, Duke University, Nicholas Sch Environm & Earth Sci
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  • A. J. Westgate, Univ N Carolina, University of North Carolina, University of North Carolina Wilmington, Ctr Marine Sci
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  • K. Colegrove, Univ Illinois, University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign, University of Illinois System, Zool Pathol Program
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  • F. Gomez, Natl Marine Mammal Fdn
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  • K. Martz, Natl Marine Mammal Fdn
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  • R. Rebolledo, Natl Marine Mammal Fdn
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  • S. Ridgway, US Navy, Marine Mammal Program
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  • T. Rowles, Natl Marine Fisheries Serv, National Oceanic Atmospheric Admin (NOAA) - USA, Off Protected Resources
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  • C. E. van Elk
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  • J. Boehm, Marine Mammal Ctr
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  • G. Cardenas-Hinojosa, Ctr Invest Cient & Educ, CICESE - Centro de Investigacion Cientifica y de Educacion Superior de Ensenada, Dept Biol Conservac
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  • R. Constandse, Asociac Mexicana Habitats Interacc & Protecc Mami
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  • E. Nieto-Garcia, Inst Nacl Ecol & Cambio Climat SEMARNAT
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  • W. Phillips, Asociac Mexicana Habitats Interacc & Protecc Mami
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  • D. Sabio, Museo Ballena
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  • R. Sanchez, Asociac Mexicana Habitats Interacc & Protecc Mami
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  • J. Sweeney, DolphinQuest
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  • F. Townsend, Bayside Hosp Anim
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  • J. Vivanco, Baja Aqua Farms
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  • J. C. Vivanco, Baja Aqua Farms
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  • S. Walker, Natl Marine Mammal Fdn

In 2017 an emergency field effort was undertaken in an attempt to prevent the extinction of the world's most endangered marine mammal, the vaquita Phocoena sinus. The rescue effort involved 90 experts from 9 countries and cost US$ 5 million. Following a long decline due to entanglement in legal gillnet fisheries, the vaquita population had fallen from more than 200 to fewer than 30 individuals from 2008 to 2016, due to entanglement in an illegal gillnet fishery that supplies swim bladders of the endangered totoaba Totoaba macdonaldi to Chinese black markets. An emergency ban of gillnets and increased enforcement failed to slow the decline, triggering an emergency effort to catch vaquitas and place them under protection in captivity. Two animals were targeted and captured using light gill nets; a juvenile was released 4 h later because it appeared stressed, and an adult female died of capture myopathy. The program was suspended because of the risk of additional mortalities to the population. The lack of success in capturing vaquitas for temporary protection emphasizes the need to improve our understanding of the effects of chase, capture, handling and enclosure on cetaceans, and to consider intervention before populations reach critically low levels, when there is sufficient time to use phased, precautionary approaches. Furthermore, conservation approaches focused on single species must be integrated into broader efforts to conserve ecosystems and involve the human communities that depend on them.

OriginalsprogEngelsk
TidsskriftEndangered Species Research
Vol/bind38
Sider (fra-til)11-27
Antal sider17
ISSN1863-5407
DOI
StatusUdgivet - 1 jan. 2019

    Forskningsområder

  • Vaquita, Cetacean conervation, porpoise, Capture myopathy

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