Has Mexico finally taken the step that will save the vaquita from extinction? Or will it not be enough?


Mexico this week permanently banned gill nets as part of a last-minute effort to save the vaquita from extinction. Just 30 or fewer of these critically endangered porpoises (Phocoena sinus) remain in their only habitat, the Gulf of California. The cetaceans frequently die after becoming entangled in gill nets, which poachers use to catch the totoaba (Totoaba macdonaldi), an endangered fish whose swim bladders sell to Chinese consumers for thousands of dollars a pound. Conservationists have called for a ban on gill nets for years. Vaquitas have continued to die while poachers continued their efforts under the cover of legal operations.

The Revelator will cover this developing story extensively in the coming weeks.

John R. Platt

is the editor of The Revelator. An award-winning environmental journalist, his work has appeared in Scientific American, Audubon, Motherboard, and numerous other magazines and publications. His “Extinction Countdown” column has run continuously since 2004 and has covered news and science related to more than 1,000 endangered species. He is a member of the Society of Environmental Journalists and the National Association of Science Writers. John lives on the outskirts of Portland, Ore., where he finds himself surrounded by animals and cartoonists.

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