Vaquita porpoises: Fishing poses a threat to the world's smallest marine mammal
Fishing is posing a threat to the world's smallest marine mammal, vaquita porpoises as per a study published in the journal Science.
With only 10 vaquitas left in their sole habitat within Mexico's Gulf of California, they are on the edge of extinction.
In their research, scientists have also said that they have not been doomed by inbreeding which causes a lack of genetic diversity.
Jacqueline Robinson, the study's lead author and a scientist at the University of California San Francisco told AFP that "We're trying to push back on this idea that there's no hope, that nothing we do could save them at this point. It's just not an accurate assumption."
After analysing genomes of 20 vaquitas, researchers believe that to save the marine mammals can recover if illegal "gillnet" fishing ceases immediately.
Porpoises, measure four to five feet, are closely related to dolphins, and are shy and elusive in nature.
Vaquitas means ''little cow'' in Spanish, have relatively large dorsal fins and are thought to help them dissipate from heat.
Robinson said "Generally, we would think of low genetic diversity as being a bad thing. But in this case, it is somewhat advantageous for the vaquitas for their possibility of future recovery."
Between 1985 and 2017, the population of vaquitas decimated in the 20th century from 576 to ten.
Vaquitas, in particular the totoaba which is endangered, have a swim-bladder and are prized in traditional Chinese medicine.