VaquitaCPR: Project Esperanza
In the wake of VaquitaCPR’s bold vaquita rescue operations, the team has launched Project Esperanza aimed at gathering critical data on vaquitas to inform conservation and protection efforts. Project Esperanza involves three aims:
Photo-identification will allow scientists to identify individual animals, improve our understanding of vaquitas’ life history, particularly survival rates, and estimate the minimum number of vaquitas that are alive today.
Acoustic monitoring studies enable scientists to listen in on the ocean environment. Vaquitas can be heard and their location pinpointed, which allows protection and net-pulling efforts to focus on where the animals are spending most of their time.
Remote tissue sampling provides essential living material from vaquitas. Live cells will be transported to San Diego Zoo Global’s Frozen Zoo so that future options can be considered for recovery of this endangered species. Tissue will also be transported to NOAA’s Southwest Fisheries Science Center for DNA studies to study their genetic strength and diversity.
These conservation initiatives have been recommended by CIRVA and endorsed by the Scientific Committee of the IWC. Through these initiatives, Project Esperanza aims to support local fishers and organizations working to implement and enhance these efforts.
VaquitaCPR’s Project Esperanza is also urgently working to raise global awareness of the vaquita crisis. Today, vaquitas are navigating the dangerous waters of the Upper Gulf of California, where gillnets have already taken countless vaquita lives. Unless we gain the world’s support to solve these difficult problems, the last vaquitas will drown in gillnets. Project Esperanza aims to inform and inspire the public to start a conversation about the vaquita crisis and engage in meaningful conservation efforts locally and globally. Saving a species will take each and every one of us – working together to create healthy oceans and thriving coastal communities.
Stop the Demand
The Earth League International is a nonprofit organization entirely focused on intelligence collection and investigation of wildlife trafficking. ELI’s efforts support law enforcement and government agencies in their fight against wildlife crime. ELI is working to address the root of the problem in the fight to save vaquitas through Operation Fake Gold. The team continues to gather information and investigate onsite in Mexico, China, and the US; evaluate information with their crime analysts and intelligence experts; and produce both public and confidential intelligence reports for government and law enforcement authorities in all three countries. ELI aims to create sustainable, long-term change through providing the information necessary to spark concrete actions addressing the demand and market for totoaba.
What can you do?
Use your voice
We owe it to each of the remaining vaquitas to sound an alarm that is heard round the world. Help us tell their story. Talk about vaquitas that are drowning, fishermen who are struggling, and the illegal fishery that is to blame. Talk about it at the water cooler and at the dinner table. And talk about how we still have time to pull them back from the edge of extinction. Then start sharing. Tweet it, post it, and blog it. #vaquitacpr @vaquitacpr
Use your heart
You can make a difference today by supporting VaquitaCPR’s Project Esperanza. Your contribution will directly support the current critical conservation efforts aimed at bringing vaquitas back from the brink of extinction.
Use your mind
Open your mind to the benefits of choosing sustainably-caught seafood. Talk to your local restaurants, grocers, and other seafood providers about the importance of sustainable fisheries. Increasing the demand for sustainable seafood will support the creation of alternative fishing methods that protect oceans and ecosystems all over the world.
A multi-institutional effort is underway in the Upper Gulf of California to remove deadly gillnets from the waters that are posing a threat to vaquitas and other aquatic animals. Currently, organizations such as Museo de la Ballena, the Mexican Ministry of the Environment, the Mexican Navy, Sea Shepherd Conservation Society, and the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) are working together with a team of local fishers to find and remove illegal nets. VaquitaCPR’s Project Esperanza is directly supporting the net-pulling efforts of the Museo de la Ballena to ensure continuation of operations to clear dangerous gillnets from the vaquitas habitat. Project Esperanza aims to provide the species with a chance at survival, while also supporting the good work of local fishers and organizations working together to make a difference.
Acoustic monitoring efforts are ongoing in the Upper Gulf of California to detect the presence of vaquitas and track their movements. Acoustic equipment known as CPODS are placed in the water column throughout the vaquita habitat and are set to autonomously detect vaquitas and collect data over a determined period of time. The data collected provides information about the species, their distribution, and their use of the environment, while also informing population estimates and conservation measures. A team of local fishers work directly with Armando Jaramillo from CONABIO and Gustavo Cardenas from INECC to implement the acoustics program. Project Esperanza is supporting the acoustic detection efforts, and specifically, providing support to the fishers deploying and retrieving the acoustic equipment.
VaquitaCPR’s Project Esperanza is urgently working to raise global awareness of the vaquita crisis. Today, vaquitas are navigating the dangerous waters of the Upper Gulf of California, where gillnets have already taken countless vaquita lives. Unless we gain the world’s support to solve these difficult problems, the last vaquitas will drown in gillnets. Project Esperanza aims to inform and inspire the public to start a conversation about the vaquita crisis and engage in meaningful conservation efforts locally and globally. Saving a species will take each and every one of us – working together to create healthy oceans and thriving coastal communities.