June 7, 2023 – Hope for the survival of the world’s most endangered marine mammal was the highlight in the results of the 2023 Vaquita Survey, which were released today in a press conference with Survey leaders, senior Mexican government officials, and the NGO Sea Shepherd.
Survey data shows up to 10-13 Vaquita exist, including a minimum of one newly born calf, who have now been sighted in two consecutive surveys. Dr. Barbara Taylor, leader of the comprehensive evaluation, said “This survey revealed the greatest conservation success for vaquitas in my 30 years working to conserve this species,” and later in the report states “The apparent 90% decrease in gillnetting within the last stronghold of the Vaquitas is probably the most significant step taken to date to save this species.”
The 2023 Vaquita Survey took place May 10-26, 2023 in a small region of Mexico’s Upper Gulf of California. A partnership between Sea Shepherd and the Natural Protected Areas Commission of Mexico (CONANP), the survey was conducted by fourteen highly trained and experienced observers and led by Dr. Taylor, who has more than 20 years of experience in protecting the Vaquita. The survey located and tracked Vaquitas from two ships, the Sea Shepherd vessel M/V Seahorse and a private vessel: Sirena de la Noche. Both vessels served as observation platforms to help estimate the population size of the living Vaquitas in the Zero Tolerance Area (ZTA) of the Vaquita Refuge. Logistical support was provided by the Mexican Navy.
Pritam Singh, Chairman and CEO of Sea Shepherd which has been protecting the Vaquita since 2015 through Operation Milagro in partnership with the Mexican Government, said “The mission we share with CONANP, SEMARNAT, the Mexican Navy and Dr. Taylor is simple; save the Vaquita. Our commitment to that goal is complete, and for us at Sea Shepherd the survey results we are announcing today do exactly one thing; increase our determination to save the Vaquita.”
See the entire report HERE.
Dr. Barbara Taylor, leader of the survey, went on to say, “This is the most encouraging news ever of human intervention to save vaquitas. The results of the May 2023 survey provide clear evidence that this type of protection needs to be expanded to cover more of the high-use areas of the remaining vaquitas.”