Quantcast
Environmental News for a Healthier Planet and Life

The Most Endangered Child at Our Border

Insights + Opinion
The Most Endangered Child at Our Border

It has been heartwarming to see the vast amounts of news coverage and public attention to address the thousands of unaccompanied children arriving at our Southwest border with Mexico. As thorny as immigration issues are, our American humanity is taking hold, trying to come up with a workable solution that protects these engendered kids and their futures.

Meet the vaquita, which the Cousteau Society calls the most endangered marine mammal on the planet. The vaquita is a very small porpoise that lives in the upper reaches of the Gulf of California just below the U.S./Mexican border. Photo credit: Conservation International Mexico

And so that’s why I have just a bit of new hope about the most endangered child at our border right now that has gotten only a small fraction of news coverage and attention

This child is not human.

Meet the vaquita, which the Cousteau Society calls the most endangered marine mammal on the planet. The vaquita is a very small porpoise that lives in the upper reaches of the Gulf of California just below the U.S./Mexican border. In fact, back before the dams were built and the Colorado River still flowed into the Gulf, the vaquita may have actually swam up and over the border near Rio San Luis Colorado, Mexico and Yuma, Arizona.

But not anymore.

Due to gillnet fishing, illegal fishing of other species and the complete lack of freshwater flowing into the Gulf from the Colorado River, the International Union of Conservation of Nature has for years tracked the decline and endangerment of the vaquita. In 1997, the IUCN estimate there were just 567 vaquita living in the Gulf; just last week they estimated that only 97 vaquita are still alive. This new estimate has garnered some news attention, here in the Washington Post and here in the San Diego Union Tribune. This shy, unique creature could go completely extinct from our planet in the next two or three years.

Here’s what needs to happen:

  1. The U.S. government and the American public needs to increase the pressure on the Mexican government to ban gillnet fishing, switch to vaquita-safe trawling nets, patrol for illegal fishing in the Gulf and increase the protected habitat in the vaquita’s range.
  2. The U.S. government needs to better enforce the laws around trafficking in other endangered species, including the totoaba fish, which when it is illegally caught in the Gulf also ensnares and kills vaquita swimming nearby. Insanely, Chinese culture believes that body parts of the totoaba are an aphrodisiac, and the trafficking in totoaba body parts travels through the U.S. over to boats and airports on the West Coast towards China.
  3. The U.S. government and the American people need to better educate everyone about the consumption of fish that are gillnetted in the Gulf during which vaquita are accidentally snared and killed. Many of these gillnetted fish are sold to U.S. markets as seafood, and thus our consumption habits can help stop the destructive fishing in the Gulf that kills vaquita.

The children that are walking up to our border have eyes and voices for all of the American public to see, and our media is trained to feed that compelling story to us. The vaquita has neither—the only voice they have is what we give to them.

But America’s humanity will rise to this occasion too—I just know it will.

Help prevent the extinction of the vaquita by signing this petition.

You Might Also Like

Pacific Bluefin Tuna Population at Brink of Collapse

Bye Bye Bycatch? Smart Nets That Save Fish

New England’s Cod in Crisis

Air France airplanes parked at the Charles de Gaulle/Roissy airport on March 24, 2020. SAMSON / AFP via Getty Images

France moved one step closer this weekend to banning short-haul flights in an attempt to fight the climate crisis.

Read More Show Less
EcoWatch Daily Newsletter
A woman looks at a dead gray whale on the beach in the SF Bay area on May 23, 2019; a new spate of gray whales have been turning up dead near San Francisco. Justin Sullivan / Getty Images

Four gray whales have washed up dead near San Francisco within nine days, and at least one cause of death has been attributed to a ship strike.

Read More Show Less
Trending
A small tourist town has borne the brunt of a cyclone which swept across the West Australian coast. ABC News (Australia) / YouTube

Tropical Cyclone Seroja slammed into the Western Australian town of Kalbarri Sunday as a Category 3 storm before grinding a more-than 600-mile path across the country's Southwest.

Read More Show Less
A general view shows the remains of a dam along a river in Tapovan, India, on February 10, 2021, following a flash flood caused by a glacier break on February 7. Sajjad Hussain / AFP / Getty Images

By Rishika Pardikar

Search operations are still underway to find those declared missing following the Uttarakhand disaster on 7 February 2021.

Read More Show Less
Indigenous youth, organizers with the Dakota Access and Line 3 pipeline fights and climate activists march to the White House to protest against pipeline projects on April 1, 2021. Bill Clark / CQ-Roll Call, Inc via Getty Images

By Jessica Corbett

Indigenous leaders and climate campaigners on Friday blasted President Joe Biden's refusal to shut down the Dakota Access Pipeline during a court-ordered environmental review, which critics framed as a betrayal of his campaign promises to improve tribal relations and transition the country to clean energy.

Read More Show Less