In DepthConservation Biology

Can captive breeding save Mexico's vaquita?

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Science  12 Aug 2016:
Vol. 353, Issue 6300, pp. 633-634
DOI: 10.1126/science.353.6300.633

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Summary

The vaquita, a child-sized porpoise that lives in the northern reaches of Mexico's Gulf of California, is the world's most endangered marine mammal, its population declining precipitously as it is snared in illegal fishing nets. Just 60 remain, and researchers are pondering a controversial strategy for saving it: capturing a handful of vaquitas and breeding them in captivity. The idea is fraught with practical and political difficulties. No one has ever tried to capture, transport, or care for the animals. And some conservationists fear a captive breeding program will undermine efforts to save the species in the wild. But if further study supports the idea, the first vaquita capture could occur in 2017.

  • * is a freelance writer in New Haven, Connecticut