Good News for a Previous WWW Subject- the Vaquita

As some of you may recall, back in June one of the subjects of my recurring Weird Wildlife Wednesday post was an extremely endangered cetacean known as the Vaquita. I recently came across this article at TakePart.com about a single simple way that biologists are saying they could be saved. Check it out at this link!

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Dead California Gulf porpoise, also known as vaquita, is seen in San Felipe

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Blackfish: A film about the largest orca in captivity and what drove him to kill

I can’t wait to see this documentary. It played at the Sarasota Film Festival while I was living there but I wasn’t able to attend. This film is about Tilikum, the largest killer whale in captivity, who has attacked and killed more than once. Tilikum lives in Sea World Orlando along with multiple other killer whales. I read somewhere that over half of the killer whales in captivity have Tilikum’s genes because of his extensive use in breeding and artificial insemination.

He, along with two other orcas, was captured from the wild in the waters of iceland back in the early ’80s. That this happened is so sad. He was only 2 or 3 years old and torn from his mother’s side. It is no wonder that he apparently has great anxiety and aggression. He is psychologically disturbed. Whales, and all cetaceans, are some of the most intelligent species on earth. There are some animals that shouldn’t be in captivity, especially those that would reside in a much larger habitat in the wild than can be provided in a park. Orcas travel the world’s oceans, live in family pods, dive deep, and have social relationships. To take such massive and sentient animals and essentially put them in a swimming pool is, not surprisingly, very controversial. The Shamu show is what draws in the big crowds to Sea World, but it is not in the best interest of the animals.

In my opinion (which you do not have to agree with), Sea World and any other place like that should not be allowed to breed cetaceans. The animals they currently own have lived in captivity so long that they cannot be released, they wouldn’t survive. But no more animals should be born into this life. It is one thing if an animal is rescued for rehabilitation and then is deemed unreleasable because of injuries or illness that wouldn’t allow it to survive in the wild. It is a completely different thing thing to intentionally kidnap them from the wild and then use them to breed even more in captivity. This is not conservation. Those animals aren’t being breed to ultimately be released and help the wild populations grow. They are being breed to be trained for a show.

I highly recommend that everyone see this film. Here is a link to showings and theaters.

Check out the trailer for Blackfish here:

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=G93beiYiE74]

Weird Wildlife Wednesday: the Vaquita

The Vaquita (Phocoena sinus) is this weeks Weird Wildlife Wednesday species. This is the smallest member of the cetaceans, toping out at around 4.9 feet long and is also the most critically endangered with populations potentially fewer than two-hundred individuals.  Unlike some other more well known cetacean species, these guys tend to be more solitary, typically in groups no larger than four individuals. Little is known about the life history of these animals because of their low numbers and illusiveness. This is also the reason why there are so few pictures of them alive.

A Vaquita entangled in fishing net Source Link

A Vaquita entangled in fishing net
Source Link

One of this biggest threats currently for this little cetacean is entanglement in fishing gear. Being endemic to and only found in the Gulf of California, Mexico, it is thought that pesticides flowing from the Colorado River may be posing a threat to Vaquitas as well.

Source: http://wwf.panda.org/what_we_do/endangered_species/cetaceans/about/vaquita/