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Mexico trying to save the last 150 vaquita porpoises

Mexico just announced it would spend $16 million to get fishermen in the Bay of California to learn not to catch the vaquita porpoise, which is down to only about 150 animals. A website dedicated to saving the vaquita estimates 39 to 84 die each year in nets.

There are so few left that some have even argued they’re extinct, so why bother trying to save them? The Vaquita Marina group says people still do see them–and catch them in nets–so they know there are still some around. They’ve even come up with a handy map of vaquita sightings.
They say that the cartoon-faced porpoise “can not be easily observed, since it flees when boats appear and remains under the water for several minutes without having to come out to breathe.”

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If there really are 150 left, the program amounts to $10,000 per vaquita–and a good example of how expensive it is to save a species if we let it dwindle so low. What they’ll actually be spending the money on, according to Discovery News, is paying fisherman $4,500 not to fish in the reserve, $30,000 to learn safer techniques and $60,000 to turn in their boat and quit fishing.

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