One method of conservation activism regularly employed by the Atlantic Whale Foundation is circulating petitions around the whale watching boats to further educate tourists on different cetacean-related issues from all corners of the world. Petitions are an excellent way for our volunteers to break the ice and start conversations with tourists, whom, more often than not, are very interested in getting involved and are more than happy to sign a petition for a good cause.
Our current petition in circulation is raising awareness about the plight of the Vaquita porpoise, the rarest species of cetacean found only in the Gulf of California. It is especially important that action is taken to protect these creatures, as it is estimated there is only 58 remaining in the wild. The Vaquita have been pushed to the brink of extinction due to the illegal use of gillnets by fisherman trying to catch endangered Totoaba fish in the Gulf. The Vaquita become entangled in these nets and often die from shock and stress after being unable to free themselves.
Despite the ban on using gillnets, fisherman still continue to employ these practices to harvest the swim bladders from the Totoaba fish, which can sell for up to $3.6 million for 200 swim bladders (2013 prices) in Chinese markets, where they are considered a delicacy.
Organisations like Sea Shepherd have recently done a lot of work to remove illegal gillnets as well as partnering with Mexican officials to ensure that this illegal practice does not continue, but still the Vaquita remain critically endangered, and more needs to be done to ensure that they do not go completely extinct within the next few years.
To sign the current petition click here
For more information about the Vaquita, please check out