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Can Drones Save Endangered Animals?
Vaquita and Totoaba © Rachel Ivanyi
 
Not to sound overly dramatic, but every look in the dark-circled eyes of vaquita porpoise may be the last one: meet the world’s most rare marine mammal, which is on the very brink of extinction just a little over half a century since being discovered. Today, only about 60 vaquita porpoises swim in the waters of the Gulf of California, their only habitat, which may go from UNESCO protected area to the World Heritage in Danger by next year. 
 
The Gulf of California boasts an extraordinary diversity of marine life, including many species of reef fish, sharks, whales, marine turtles and critically endangered species like vaquita and totoaba. It is quite an effort to create protected areas within the Gulf, as unfortunately for the abundant wildlife, it just happens to be the most important fisheries region in Mexico. The area’s beautiful beaches and colorful reefs also attract flocks of tourists and sport fishing enthusiasts. 
 
Vaquita
 
Although Mexican authorities have taken a string of measures, praised by the environmentalists, the threat remains. After the banning of night fishing and gill nets, Mexico’s government has recently launched drones in a last-ditch effort to prevent illegal fishing, the primary cause led to the near extinction of the vaquita. The thing is, vaquita’s fate is linked to another critically endangered species, totoaba, which is illegally caught for swim bladders and the question remains open: ‘Will the measures stand a chance against demand for a delicacy at the price of extinction?’ 
 
Vaquita
 
不夸张的说,人类每一次与小头鼠海豚的相遇,都有可能是最后一次:世界上最珍稀的海洋哺乳动物,被发现半个世纪以来已经处在灭绝的边缘。如今,只有大约60只小头鼠海豚生活在它们唯一的栖息地——加里弗尼亚海湾。在联合国教科文组织的保护下,这片海湾明年将被列入濒危世界遗产名录。
 
加利福尼亚海湾拥有着非凡的海洋物种多样性,栖息在此的生物包括岩礁鱼类、鲨鱼、鲸鱼、海龟以及小头鼠海豚和石首鱼这样的极危物种。不幸的是,在海湾内建立保护区域非常之难,因为这片海湾丰富的野生鱼类,使得这里成为墨西哥最为重要的捕鱼区域。同时,这里美丽的海滩和五彩斑斓的暗礁吸引了成群的游客和游钓爱好者。
 
Vaquita © Vanessa Chacon
 
尽管墨西哥官方采取了一系列被环境学家称赞措施,对于环境的威胁仍然存在。在禁止夜钓和刺网之后,作为阻止非法捕鱼的最后防线,最近墨西哥政府在海湾投放了雄蜂——一个造成小头鼠海豚灭绝的罪魁祸首。事实是,小头鼠海豚的命运和另一个极危物种石首鱼捆绑在了一起。石首鱼因其美味的鱼鳔被广泛非法捕捞。因此产生的疑问仍然在争议当中:“是否这个阻止非法捕捞石首鱼的措施是以小头鼠海豚的灭绝为代价?”
 
Vaquita
Can Drones Save Endangered Animals?


Vaquita and Totoaba © Rachel Ivanyi
 
Not to sound overly dramatic, but every look in the dark-circled eyes of vaquita porpoise may be the last one: meet the world’s most rare marine mammal, which is on the very brink of extinction just a little over half a century since being discovered. Today, only about 60 vaquita porpoises swim in the waters of the Gulf of California, their only habitat, which may go from UNESCO protected area to the World Heritage in Danger by next year. 
 
The Gulf of California boasts an extraordinary diversity of marine life, including many species of reef fish, sharks, whales, marine turtles and critically endangered species like vaquita and totoaba. It is quite an effort to create protected areas within the Gulf, as unfortunately for the abundant wildlife, it just happens to be the most important fisheries region in Mexico. The area’s beautiful beaches and colorful reefs also attract flocks of tourists and sport fishing enthusiasts. 
 
Vaquita
 
Although Mexican authorities have taken a string of measures, praised by the environmentalists, the threat remains. After the banning of night fishing and gill nets, Mexico’s government has recently launched drones in a last-ditch effort to prevent illegal fishing, the primary cause led to the near extinction of the vaquita. The thing is, vaquita’s fate is linked to another critically endangered species, totoaba, which is illegally caught for swim bladders and the question remains open: ‘Will the measures stand a chance against demand for a delicacy at the price of extinction?’ 
 
Vaquita
 
不夸张的说,人类每一次与小头鼠海豚的相遇,都有可能是最后一次:世界上最珍稀的海洋哺乳动物,被发现半个世纪以来已经处在灭绝的边缘。如今,只有大约60只小头鼠海豚生活在它们唯一的栖息地——加里弗尼亚海湾。在联合国教科文组织的保护下,这片海湾明年将被列入濒危世界遗产名录。
 
加利福尼亚海湾拥有着非凡的海洋物种多样性,栖息在此的生物包括岩礁鱼类、鲨鱼、鲸鱼、海龟以及小头鼠海豚和石首鱼这样的极危物种。不幸的是,在海湾内建立保护区域非常之难,因为这片海湾丰富的野生鱼类,使得这里成为墨西哥最为重要的捕鱼区域。同时,这里美丽的海滩和五彩斑斓的暗礁吸引了成群的游客和游钓爱好者。
 
Vaquita © Vanessa Chacon
 
尽管墨西哥官方采取了一系列被环境学家称赞措施,对于环境的威胁仍然存在。在禁止夜钓和刺网之后,作为阻止非法捕鱼的最后防线,最近墨西哥政府在海湾投放了雄蜂——一个造成小头鼠海豚灭绝的罪魁祸首。事实是,小头鼠海豚的命运和另一个极危物种石首鱼捆绑在了一起。石首鱼因其美味的鱼鳔被广泛非法捕捞。因此产生的疑问仍然在争议当中:“是否这个阻止非法捕捞石首鱼的措施是以小头鼠海豚的灭绝为代价?”
 
Vaquita