PHOTO BY ANTONELLA WILBY
The author, Samantha Young, and researcher Luis Ramirez (back row) visit grade schools in San Felipe, Baja California, Mexico, to develop a conservation curriculum with teachers. The students are sharing their artwork made entirely of recycled materials.
CONSERVATION of the
By Samantha Young CONSERVATION EDUCATION DIVISION, SAN DIEGO ZOO INSTITUTE FOR CONSERVATION RESEARCH
and James Danoff-Burg, Ph.D.
WE ARE IN THE MIDST of the sixth and greatest extinction
event the planet has ever known, often referred to as the Anthropocene. We, as a species, are causing the extinctions, yet we, as a species, have a great many skills and solutions that can slow the rate of extinctions. There are still many reasons for hope and meeting the challenge. One species that is on the verge of extinction is the vaquita marina Phocoena sinus, or calf of the ocean, an elusive porpoise native to the northern Gulf of California, just southeast of San Diego. With fewer than 250 individuals remaining, it is one of the most endangered marine mammals in the world. As the smallestknown cetacean, the vaquita is also one of the cutest, with its beautiful “eyeliner” and stylish black “lipstick.” The vaquita is important in its ecosystem because it is