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Red List Status and Extinction Risk for the World's Cetaceans

by Daria Blackwell 20 Oct 2023 16:13 UTC
Red List Status and Extinction Risk of the World's Whales, Dolphins and Porpoises © Daria Blackwell

One in 4 cetacean species (26% of 92) were assessed as being threatened with extinction.

The information contained in the newly updated Red List assessments was collated to provide an overview of the global Red List status, which was published in Conservation Biology earlier this year in a paper with the title Red List Status and Extinction Risk of the World’s Whales, Dolphins and Porpoises.

In a separate report, scientists warned about extinction risk for the vaquita porpoise whose sole habitat is the Gulf of California. Given the 45% annual decline estimated in 2018, most people expected Mexico's vaquita porpoise to already be extinct. Scientists have just seen (May 2023) about the same number of vaquitas they saw in 2019 and 2021 in a small area in the far northern Gulf of California near San Felipe, Mexico (read the full report here in English).

In August 2022 the Mexican Navy deployed 193 concrete blocks with 3m high metal hooks designed to entangle gillnets. Blocks were set within the vaquitas' last stronghold: a 12 x 24 km area called the Zero Tolerance Area (ZTA). The apparent 90%+ decrease in gillnetting within the last stronghold of vaquitas is probably the most significant step taken to date toward saving the species. The International Whaling Commission (IWC) has issued the first-ever extinction alert in its 70-year history, to spur action to help the world's tiniest and most endangered marine mammal.

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This article has been provided by the courtesy of the Ocean Cruising Club.

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