Vaquita : science, politics, and crime in the Sea of Cortez

by Bessesen, Brooke,

Format: Print Book 2018
Availability: Available at 2 Libraries 2 of 2 copies
Available (2)
Location Collection Call #
CLP - Main Library Second Floor - Non-fiction QL737.C434 B47 2018x
Location  CLP - Main Library
Collection  Second Floor - Non-fiction
Call Number  QL737.C434 B47 2018x
Northern Tier Regional Library Nonfiction 333.95 BESSE
Location  Northern Tier Regional Library
Collection  Nonfiction
Call Number  333.95 BESSE
"Intrepid conservation detective story." -- Nature

"A lucid, informed, and gripping account...a must-read." -- Science

"Passionate...a heartfelt and alarming tale." -- Publishers Weekly

"Gripping...a well-told and moving tale of environmentalism and conservation." -- Kirkus

"Compelling." -- Library Journal

In 2006, vaquita, a diminutive porpoise making its home in the Upper Gulf of California, inherited the dubious title of world's most endangered marine mammal. Nicknamed "panda of the sea" for their small size and beguiling facial markings, vaquitas have been in decline for decades, dying by the hundreds in gillnets intended for commercially valuable fish, as well as for an endangered fish called totoaba. When international crime cartels discovered a lucrative trade in the swim bladders of totoaba, illegal gillnetting went rampant, and now the lives of the few remaining vaquitas hang in the balance.

Author Brooke Bessesen takes us on a journey to Mexico's Upper Gulf region to uncover the story. She interviewed townspeople, fishermen, scientists, and activists, teasing apart a complex story filled with villains and heroes, a story whose outcome is unclear. When diplomatic and political efforts to save the little porpoise failed, Bessesen followed a team of veterinary experts in a binational effort to capture the last remaining vaquitas and breed them in captivity--the best hope for their survival. In this fast-paced, soul-searing tale, she learned that there are no easy answers when extinction is profitable.

Whether the rescue attempt succeeds or fails, the world must ask itself hard questions. When vaquita and the totoaba are gone, the black market will turn to the next vulnerable species. What will we do then?
Published Reviews
Booklist Review: "*Starred Review* This is the story of an ecological tragedy, the slowly begun and ever-accelerating loss of an endangered species, specifically the tale of the vaquita, a small porpoise and the world's littlest cetacean. As late as 2017, most people had never heard of the vaquita, but as the crisis of its impending extinction and the troubling politics of the last-ditch effort to save it became newsworthy, the world began to notice. Conservation biologist Bessesen immersed herself in the biology and politics of the vaquita , which lives only in the upper reaches of the Gulf of California. That region is also home to the totoaba, a large fish prized by Chinese medicine, and where a massive illegal fishery persists to feed that market. The huge gill nets used to capture the fish wreak havoc on other species, most notably, the vaquita, which drowns when caught in them. As the author writes about her companion researchers, talking with fisherman and other local people, and meetings with governmental and nongovernmental organizations, she pieces together the often messy nature of international conservation in a race against the millions to be made in international poaching, with the vaquita caught in the middle.--Nancy Bent Copyright 2018 Booklist"
From Booklist, Copyright (c) American Library Association. Used with permission.
Publisher's Weekly Review: "Longtime field biologist and research fellow Bessesen presents a passionate if meandering case for saving the world's most critically endangered marine mammal, the vaquita, a five-foot-long porpoise that lives in only one place on earth: the Sea of Cortez, between Baja California and the rest of Mexico. During the 20 months Bessesen researched them, the number of remaining vaquitas dwindled from 60 to possibly 15. The culprit is the gill net, used by fishermen for decades to catch a fish called totoaba, whose swim bladders are highly valued in China for their supposed curative powers. But gill nets catch and kill vaquitas, too. Bessesen chronicles efforts to confiscate gill nets and to count vaquitas, as well as visits with villagers, fishermen, Mexican government officials, and scientists to get their takes on the little porpoises. The situation has set struggling fishermen and environmentalists against each other: the government has announced gill net bans, provided subsidies for fishermen using alternative gear, and created a vaquita refuge, but these measures have been abused or gone unenforced. Poachers, cartels, and corruption abound. A last-ditch effort by scientists to raise vaquitas isn't promising; they're ill-suited to captivity. Even the involvement of UNESCO and environmental activist Leonardo DiCaprio and a growing media blitz about the vaquitas' plight haven't seen the animals' population rebound. Although Bessesen sometimes refers to events and vaquita numbers confusingly out of sequence, this is a heartfelt and alarming tale. (Sept.) © Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved."
(c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved
Additional Information
Subjects Phocoena sinus.
Rare mammals -- Mexico -- California, Gulf of.
Endangered species -- Mexico -- California, Gulf of.
Wildlife conservation -- Mexico -- California, Gulf of.
Endangered ecosystems -- Mexico -- California, Gulf of.
Poaching -- Mexico -- California, Gulf of.
Totoaba fisheries -- Mexico -- California, Gulf of.
Phocoena sinus -- Conservation -- Social aspects.
Phocoena sinus -- Conservation -- Economic aspects.
Wildlife conservation -- Social aspects -- Mexico -- California, Gulf of.
Wildlife conservation -- Economic aspects -- Mexico -- California, Gulf of.
California, Gulf of (Mexico) -- Commerce.
California, Gulf of (Mexico) -- Environmental conditions.
Publisher Washington, DC :Island Press,2018
Language English
Notes "Foreword by Carl Safina"--Jacket.
Description xvii, 293 pages : illustrations, map ; 24 cm
Bibliography Notes Includes bibliographical references (pages 265-283) and index.
ISBN 9781610919319
Other Classic View