Vaquita

vaquita collage left s

Once the net held all.

Land and sea
and all of its inhabitants–
each pulling its threads,
mending and reweaving
until the ripples
returned themselves
to the delicate balance
of ebb and flow.

Ghost nets they call them–
abandoned traps that
strangle and drown.

No species lives in isolation.
Deplete one and all suffer.

Poverty kills more
than just the humans
desperate to survive.

vaquita collage s

The Gulf of California, which separates the Baha Peninsula from the Mexican mainland, has one of the most diverse ecosystems on earth, with many endemic species, including the vaquita, small porpoises on the verge of extinction.

Although laws have been passed banning gillnets and the illegal harvesting of totoaba for their swim bladders, and much of the area has been designated as off limits to commercial development, there is little money or will from the Mexican government for enforcement.

The native peoples historically relied on fishing for sustenance.  The impoverishment of their lives by commercial development, overfishing, and sport fishing mean that black market exporters of the swim bladders to China will always find someone willing to risk using banned fishing methods to catch the fish.  When gillnets are used, lost, or abandoned, vaquitas get caught in them and drown.

When I first did an endangered species post on the vaquita, in 2015, there were thought to be 100 individuals left.  Today the estimates range from 30 to less than 10.  It seems unlikely that they will survive.

Laws can only do so much.  Our entire economic system needs to be rethought in ways that allow all members of all species, including our own, to live a dignified and sustainable life.

vaquita collage right s

For earthweal, where Sherry has asked us to “remember the lost ones, and the ones who will soon break our hearts by leaving.