Today on the show we are visited by Wild Lens producer Sean Bogle for an update on our current documentary project, Souls of the Vermilion Sea.
Now it occurs to me that those of you who follow the show are probably getting sick of all the vaquita-themed episodes, but we simply can’t help ourselves! We are engrossed in this new project about the struggle to save the vaquita from extinction, and the situation down in the Northern Gulf of California has intensified quite dramatically over the past couple of months. Sean is here to give us an update, and to share his thoughts on what we were seeing during our recent shoot down in San Felipe, Mexico.
First, I’ll provide a brief overview of the situation, just to get folks up to speed who haven’t been following this issue as closely as we have been. The vaquita is the world’s most endangered marine mammal, with probably 50 or fewer individuals remaining in the population at this point. They are found only in the very Northernmost portion of the Gulf of California, and they are being killed by entanglement in gillnets, which are used almost universally by fisherman in the region.
When we began this film project, the Mexican government had just imposed a 2-year ban on the use of gillnets within the vaquita’s range, but unfortunately it is particularly difficult to enforce this ban because of the illegal fishery for the Totoaba. The totoaba is a fish species, also endemic to the Northern Gulf of California and also considered endangered, which is being harvested solely for its swim bladder. The swim bladder of the totoaba is highly prized in China, and a large female bladder will sell for thousands of dollars.
So despite the ban on gillnets, we’ve been paying close attention to the illegal totoaba fishery, which is currently at it’s seasonal height. Sean will be telling us about what we learned about the intensity of this illegal fishery as well as what this means for the vaquita and for our film project, Souls of the Vermilion Sea.
Listen to the podcast episode here:
Tags: endangered vaquita, gillnet fishing, Gulf of California, san felipe, sea of cortez, totoaba, totoaba swim bladder, totoaba trade, Vaquita, vaquita conservation, vaquita crisis, vaquita research