A story in The Royal Society estimates that between 6 and 19 vaquitas are still alive. The endangered porpoise faces extinction within the year if nothing is done soon.
Found only in Mexico’s Gulf of California they are threatened by the illegal gill nets used by many fishermen in the area. The study found that 10 had died in these nets in the last three years.
Ecological statistician and study co-author Len Thomas at the University of St. Andrews’ Centre for Research into Ecological and Environmental Modelling, told Vice:
“Every day wasted is making a difference. The key thing is that we need action now. There are only days to do this.”
Sea Shepherd and the Mexican Navy are dredging up gill nets left drifting at sea but efforts may be too late for the worlds smallest porpoises.
There is hope though and species have come back from far worse in the past. Thomas himself is hopeful saying:
“There are many instances of other species that recover from low population numbers. If we stopped illegal fishing, they could bounce back. It’s not a reason at the moment to give up.”