MEXICO CITY – So few of Mexico's vaquita porpoises remain that the international committee to protect the endangered species is preparing to catch and enclose as many as it can in a last-ditch effort to save it.
According to rough estimates, only about three dozen of the world's smallest porpoise remain in the upper Gulf of California, the only place it lives. With numbers falling by 40 percent annually, there could be as few as eight breeding females left. The species has never been held successfully in captivity.
Catch-and-enclose is risky; the few remaining females could die during capture, and some experts oppose the plan.
Fisherman lured by Chinese demand for a fish that swims in the same waters have apparently defeated Mexico's efforts to protect the vaquita in its natural habitat.