Tag Archives: cetacean

Biodiversity challenge – Vaquita

Net loss


Fishermen caught in the poverty trap,
Porpoises stuck in the middle.

Vaquitas by Chloe Waterfield

Vaquitas by Chloe Waterfield http://www.facebook.com/canidaeart

Sea of Cortez,
Gill nets unfurled.
What a killer.
Lost to this world,
Like so much fishnet
Stocking filler,
One more vaquita
Vacates the Vermilion.

Action stations
For our rarest cetaceans.
No more accidental death,
Time to start saving, not drowning.
Don’t hold your breath.

© Tim Knight and timknightwriter, 2014.

Species profile: Vaquita

IUCN Red List: Critically Endangered

One of seven true porpoise species, the vaquita is the world’s smallest and most endangered cetacean. It has striking facial markings reminiscent of dark eyeliner and black lipstick, as though it were wearing ‘goth’ make-up. This rare and elusive species was only discovered in 1958. Its one remaining population, believed to comprise fewer than 100 individuals, is confined to a tiny area in the extreme north of Mexico’s Gulf of California. Vaquitas were never abundant, but in recent decades numbers have plummeted as more and more porpoises drown after being trapped in the virtually invisible gill nets set to catch fish and shrimp. More info

Biodiversity challenge – Baiji

Dolphin unfriendly
'Ghosts of The Baiji River Dolphin' Oil Painting by Chloe Water field http://www.canidaeart.com

‘Ghosts of The Baiji River Dolphin’
Oil Painting by Chloe Waterfield

Bye, bye, baiji,
Bye, bye.
Sold down the Yangtze,
Left high and dry.
Sonar scrambled,
Sand bars sullied.
Swimming in
Ever-decreasing eddies,
A drowning chicken
Unsure where its head is.
A drifting boat
Without a skipper;
Up pollution creek
Without a flipper.
Aquatic static
And argy bargy;
Traffic too hectic,
Current electric.
Wave a white fin
In cetacean surrender,
Wearily tender
Your resignation;
Sound the death knell
For echolocation
In underwater hell.
Farewell, baiji,

© Tim Knight and timknightwriter, 2014.

Species profile: Baiji

IUCN Red List Category: Critically Endangered (Possibly extinct)

The baiji, or Yangtze River dolphin, is characterised by a very long, slightly upturned beak and low triangular dorsal fin. Like other freshwater dolphins that inhabit muddy rivers, it navigates using echolocation, rather than by sight, and has tiny, barely functional eyes. The baiji has the dubious honour of being the world’s most endangered cetacean, and may well already be extinct. The last confirmed sighting was in 2002 and comprehensive surveys conducted since that time have failed to locate a single specimen. China’s rapid industrial expansion and development has led to increased river traffic, construction activity, upstream damming, dredging, pollution, unsustainable fishing practices and a whole litany of other environmental pressures, rendering the Yangtze inhospitable, if not uninhabitable, for the baiji. More info