Mystic Aquarium is proud to be one of the 232 member institutions that make up The Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA). This 501(c)3 non-profit organization is dedicated to the advancement of zoos and aquariums in the areas of conservation, education, science, and recreation.
We are prouder still of what this collective organization does on a daily to support scientific research, conservation and education programs. As the old adage goes ‘there is strength in numbers”.
And, it will take that might and more to help save the vaquita, the most endangered marine mammal in the world.
Mystic Aquarium is one of over 100 AZA peer organizations who have jointly pledged $1-million dollars in support of VaquitaCPR, an emergency action plan established by Mexico’s Department of the Environment and Natural Resources (SEMARNAT).
Altogether, there are nearly 20 different organizations or individuals providing expertise from around the world. It’s an exceptional team of experts under Mexican leadership that includes experts from as far away from Mexico as Hong Kong, The Netherlands and Denmark.
It is estimated that there are less than 30 vaquita remaining in the Gulf of California (the only known habitat for this species). Their extinction is imminent if illegal fishing is not elimination in vaquita habitat and without the permanent ban of all gillnets in the vaquita’s environment.
While those measures may take some time, VaquitaCPR calls for immediate intervention aimed at temporarily moving some of the remaining animals to a sanctuary environment. Under SEMARNAT’s leadership, the National Marine Mammal Foundation of San Diego, CA, The Marine Mammal Center of Sausalito and the Chicago Zoological Society will coordinate the efforts of a multi-institutional, international conservation team.
In the midst of the sixth mass extinction, which is caused mainly by human activities, this tremendous joint effort aimed at saving a species that may almost certainly go extinct otherwise is an example of how, with knowledge and resources pooled, the zoological and aquarium community can work with government entities to support conservation on even a larger scale.
Allison D. Tuttle, DVM, Diplomate ACZM
Vice President of Biological Programs