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Despite several efforts to preserve the endangered vaquita marina population in the Upper Gulf of California, the Sea Shepherd non-governmental organization reported finding the small corpse of a vaquita marina newborn along the area known as “Playa Hermosa” located 34 kilometers south of San Felipe, B.C.
PROFEPA, the Mexican Federal Environmental Protection agency, will begin steps to export the cadaver of the young mammal as it will be sent to the Marime Mammal Center located in San Francisco, California, for further lab studies meant to investigate reasons for death.
PROFEPA detailed the cadaver is that of the endangered vaquita marina (phoceana sinus), measuring 69 cm. long and 17 cm. wide, which apparently was a new born given its size, morphological characteristics, and because it still had the umbilical cord attached to its body.
While a cause of death has not been specified, there are indications that neonatal mortality is common among marine mammals, which is why scientific studies must be done to determine if an external or environmental factor led to the death or if it was due to natural causes.
Federal inspectors concluded there did not appear to be evidence on the vaquita’s corpse of fishing nets or other related objects, nor any evident remnants of marks or cuts that would point to being caught in a net.
Recovery of the deceased vaquita was done per Marine Mammal Beaching Protocol in order to establish causes as well as prompt attention that may contribute to conserving the species.
It’s important to note the vaquita marina is listed as critically endangered on the IUCN’s Red List (International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources). Currently it is believed there are no more than 30 vaquita still in existence.