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Artists rally as vaquita population drastically declines

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Children at the Macay learn about the endangered vaquita through at art workshop. Photo: Facebook

Mérida, Yucatán — The Macay museum has joined peers in Mexico City in using art to communicate the plight of the vaquita marina.

While Mexico City’s Museo Tamayo has organized demonstrations, the Macay is reaching out to youths.

A workshop, led by the museum’s educational services department, guides children as they create murals, sculptures and posters that depict the vaquita.

The vaquita, the world’s smallest porpoise, is found only in the Gulf of California. They get caught in fishing nets because they swim with the also-endangered totoaba, which sells on the black market to China.

The Macay museum also has on display three related sculptures by artist Colleen Casey. The works are collectively called “The Last Reef.” They depict two corals and the skeleton of a dolphin made of white clay and mud.

“In the mid ’70s I started working in an educational research center in the Bahamas. Daily we observed and recorded information about the reefs and the population of the fish in the area. I saw life on the reefs and oceans that no longer exist. That is very sad,” explains the artist Spanish-language text that accompanies the works.

“It is predicted that, in the year 2050, no reef will be left unless we make drastic changes now,” adds the artist, whose work will remain on view until March 17.

Meanwhile, in the nation’s capital, the Museo Tamayo is hosting a historical exhibition of the Vaquita; the National Museum of Anthropology is exhibiting the sculpture “Vaquita Memorial,” and in the Bosque de Chapultepec park contains a photographic exhibition, “Our Battles Against the Extinction.” Artists and activists also mounted demonstrations over the weekend.

In 2016, the year of the last available calculation, it was estimated that the vaquita population was under 30.

In the last five years, the resurgence of illegal totoaba fishing has resulted in a 39 percent average annual decline rate between 2011 and 2016. That adds up to a 90 percent population decline in this short period.

One hopeful sign was offered with UNESCO praised Mexico’s federal authorities in their efforts to monitor illegal fishing in the Gulf of California.

Source: Punto Medio, Facebook

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