The Cutest Porpoise Is Being Killed By ‘Aquatic Cocaine’

Sometimes, conservation can be a pretty straightforward endeavor. Poachers, or otherwise careless individuals cause harm to a species. A few publicity campaigns later and someone steps in to make sure that species survives. Other times, saving an endangered species can be a lot more difficult. This is why many African countries have resorted to trophy hunting to preserve endangered species, often allowing for these species to achieve much higher population numbers than they have seen in decades. Of course, the ocean can bring up a host of other issues in the case of the vaquita porpoise, a solution may not be here in time.

What Is A Vaquita?

A small, cute porpoise reaching no more than 5 feet in length, the vaquita is perhaps the world’s most adorable little sea mammal. It is found exclusively in the Gulf of California, Mexico and happens to be on the endangered species list. In recent years, scientists estimate that there are only about 60 vaquita left in the ocean. That is a six with a zero after it; not 60,000, 6,000, or even 600 -just 60. Unfortunately, this adorable little species is being killed off faster than they can be born, which is leading to a startling reality of extinction if changes aren’t made. With the demand for aquatic cocaine, it doesn’t seem that a solution is likely.

What Is Aquatic Cocaine?

Also referred to as “fish maw” in certain areas, aquatic cocaine is actually the swim bladder of another species of fish, the totaba. Specifically, those in China believe that this fish maw has special healing affects. As a result, it can sell for thousands, or sometimes tens-of-thousands of dollars. Despite the fact that fishing for these totaba is illegal, the operations continue.

But, how does this affect the vaquita? Unfortunately, when fishers of totaba go to sea, they cast nets in the same area that the vaquita live. While these innocent vaquita are just trying to go about their business, these nets often snag them, leaving them vulnerable and trapped. They die and the problem persists. So, while hunting the one is bad enough, these fishers end up causing collateral damage that impacts an entirely different species.

Will A Solution Come In Time?

So, how would one go about solving this problem? Unlike a typical conservation effort, this is a bit more complex problem to tackle. For starters, the fishing of totaba is already outlawed and so far efforts to stop it are simply not enough. The issue is that the countries responsible for that body of water need to devote more resources to stopping these illegal fishing operations. Even if they did, removing all of the nets already in place could prove troublesome and actually restoring the population might be a losing battle. If action is not taken within the next year, it might simply be too late for anyone to make a difference.


What do you think about the diminishing population of vaquita? Is there any way to stop this aquatic cocaine operation and restore the population? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below.




Joseph Macolino
Joseph Macolino
When Joseph is not writing for his Evorath fantasy series, he tries to spend time honing his physical prowess to one day become the Punisher. Most of the time, he just ends up perfecting the art of procrastination by watching Netflix, reading other good fantasy books, or playing some mindless game. Follow him at Evorath