Texas State Aquarium Announces Support of Vaquita Conservation Efforts

CORPUS CHRISTI, TEXAS – The Texas State Aquarium is proud to announce its continued support of the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) SAFE (Saving Animals From Extinction) Vaquita Rescue Project and VaquitaCPR. These programs were established to save the world’s most endangered marine mammal, a small porpoise called the vaquita which lives in the Gulf of California in Mexico.

Less than 30 vaquitas remain in the wild due to a variety of factors, including their entanglement and drowning in illegal gillnets used by fishermen. While a permanent gillnet ban was announced in July 2016 and government patrols have been set up to enforce the law, illegal fishing persists, and the vaquita population continues to decline at an alarming rate. The AZA SAFE Vaquita Rescue Project supports the emergency action by the Mexican government to temporarily remove vaquitas from their threatening environment and create a safe haven for them in human care. An international team of experts including AZA members plans to find, catch, house, and care for vaquitas in San Felipe, Mexico and set up a captive breeding program. VaquitaCPR, an international conservation program, is also providing financial support for this plan.

The Texas State Aquarium has been a significant financial contributor to saving the vaquita, committing $75,000 to date for rescue, conservation, and awareness efforts. The Texas State Aquarium was an early contributor, pledging $25,000 to create the vaquita conservation action plan in 2016. The Aquarium’s commitment inspired other zoos and aquariums to also contribute, leading to $100,000 being raised in one afternoon.

In addition to its significant financial contributions, the Aquarium raises public awareness on the plight of the vaquita through social media, interpretive displays in its Dolphin Bay exhibit, and by commemorating International Save the Vaquita Day on the first Saturday after the Fourth of July. As more members of the public hear about the vaquita and its plight, the Aquarium hopes they are inspired to help care for this endangered marine mammal and fight for its conservation.

Altogether AZA-accredited aquariums and zoos have contributed more than $500,000 in support of efforts to save the vaquita. AZA zoos and aquariums have a successful record of helping to save critically endangered species, including the California condor, golden lion tamarin, and black-footed ferret, and their contributions to the AZA SAFE Vaquita Project could also help save the vaquita from extinction.

To contribute to these vaquita conservation efforts, visit VaquitaCPR’s website at http://www.nmmf.org/vaquitacpr.html.