Mexico will use trained dolphins to try to save an endangered species of porpoise

Mexico will use trained dolphins to try to save an endangered species of porpoise
A dolphin leaps in the Cortes Sea in Mexico in March 2016.
Source: HECTOR GUERRERO/Getty Images
A dolphin leaps in the Cortes Sea in Mexico in March 2016.
Source: HECTOR GUERRERO/Getty Images

The key to saving the highly endangered vaquita porpoise could be specially trained dolphins — at least, that’s what the Mexican government is hoping.

The BBC reported on Saturday that Mexico’s government plans to deploy dolphins specially trained by the United States Navy in an effort to find and gather vaquita porpoises.

The vaquita porpoise is the most endangered marine species in the world, the BBC reported, and experts estimate that fewer than 40 of them remain in their natural habitat, namely Mexico’s Gulf of California.

Directors of the World Wide Fund for Nature in Mexico speak about the serious situation of the vaquita during a press conference on May 15.
Source: Pedro Pardo/Getty Images

Mexico also announced that it would permanently ban gillnets, the type of fishing nets believed to have caused the decline of the vaquita porpoise by accidentally trapping and killing them.

Mexico’s environment minister, Rafael Pacchiano, said the trained dolphins will be sent out to herd vaquita porpoises into a wildlife refuge. The project is slated to begin in September.

“We’ve spent the past year working alongside the U.S. Navy with a group of dolphins they had trained to search for missing scuba divers,” he told Mexico’s Formula radio, according to the BBC.

“We have to guarantee we capture the largest possible number of vaquitas to have an opportunity to save them.”

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Anna Swartz

Anna is a staff writer for Mic covering breaking news. She can be reached at aswartz@mic.com.

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