Endangered vaquitas, Souls of the Vermilion Sea

Film poster Souls of the Vermilion SeaIn the afternoon of Sunday, March 25, 2018, the ASU Center for Biodiversity Outcomes, in partnership with Plea for the Sea and Lightkeepers Foundation, hosted a film screening and expert panelist discussion about the vaquitas, the most endangered marine mammal in the world. The vaquita is a small porpoise that can only be found in the northern waters of the Gulf of California, Mexico. Acoustic monitoring programs indicate that less than 30 individual vaquitas remain in the wild, and are threatened by fishing activities and by illegal trade in the swim bladders of the totoaba, an endangered fish species which shares the vaquita’s habitat in the Gulf. The event was moderated by marine mammal researcher and professor emeritus of Texas A&M University, Dr. Bern Würsig. The session opened with a screening of the documentary Souls of the Vermilion Sea, introduced by Director and Producer Sean Bogle. An expert panelist discussion followed. This event was the first public dialogue with individuals directly involved with vaquita conservation, including experts from the recent Vaquita Conservation Protection Recovery, or Vaquita CPR, efforts that ended in December in the Gulf. The conversation was comprehensive, exploring the environmental, political, ethical, economic and social dynamics leading to the endangerment of vaquitas. Various conservation approaches were discussed, driven by active participation from the audience, which included ASU students, faculty, researchers, community members, and northern Gulf of California locals who shared insights on their daily observations. This free public event was live streamed and joined by over 250 people, both in-person and remotely. A video recording of the event is available here. The filmmakers are currently working on an expanded version of the Souls of the Vermillion Sea documentary to continue raising awareness on this topic. A 10-minute version is available here. Click here for the event’s press release.