Mexico uses drones to save endangered animals

By Dania Vargas Austryjak

Advanced technology: Flying drones to protect porpoises.

Mexican authorities have begun testing on computerized drones to patrol over the Sea of Cortez, the living area of this critically endangered species: porpoises (AKA vaquita). There are only less than 100 specimens left and the reason they’ve dropped down to this number, is due to illegal fishing in the area.

Porpoises, or vaquitas are trapped in the fishing nets during the catch of totoaba, which people fish to remove its bladder and sold in a clandestine market, shipped through California and then to China. Las year, Mexican authorities arrested 17 people for the trafficking of totoaba bladders.

porpoises vaquita

A new plan to ban gillnet fishing in the upper Gulf of California could be implemented in March, and this could really be of help, additionally, flying the drones as a way of having permanent aerial patrols and react in a faster and more efficient way.

The ban would run for the next two years, but unfortunately the porpoise (vaquita) reproduces every two years, and in fact only 25 of the ones left, are in reproductive age, making it even harder to recover the population of this shy and elusive creature. It would take a long-term plan for approximately 20 to 30 years to recover 5,000 specimens.

The vaquita is a rare species of porpoise and is endemic to the north of the Sea of Cortez or Gulf of California. It is the smallest and most endangered species of the cetacean order. We can only hope that these measures taken from government institutions such as The Federal Attorney for Environmental Protection (PROFEPA), as well as getting cooperation from U.S. authorities, can restore the population of these wonderful water animals.

vaquita fishing  net

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