Four young women submitted not only outstanding artwork, but their comments are mature and incisive. We share the winners with you in alphabetical order. They are all winners!
"The vaquita can't help themselves, so we need
to and that's why they need to be saved."
Why should we care about one species of porpoise? Because if we have the ability to save an animal, we should. Unlike other endangered animals, the vaquita has a home - the waters of the Gulf of California. The waters where they live are still there; it's only the fishermen's nets that put them in danger.
Some animals that are very endangered have no habitat left to support them; the vaquita still has a home to live in. The vaquita was once thought to be extinct, the fact that it isn't should be a wakeup call.
If someone found a live dinosaur, we would be racing to protect it because it was extinct and we know very little about them. The vaquita is on its way to extinction, but we can stop this and protect this "little cow" of the sea. There is a fine line to walk between allowing fishermen to have a living and protecting a species that is being harmed by their nets.
I'm not sure what the answer to this problem is, but there has to be a better solution than wiping out an entire species of porpoises so that people can make a living.
The vaquita can't help themselves, so we need to and that's why they need to be saved.
Grace Carberry, age 12
"We and we alone are responsible for the
vaquitas' critically endangered status."
A small porpoise swims through the waters of the Gulf of California, propelling itself with its small tail flukes. The black markings on its eyes and mouth are similar to that of a panda's - earning it the nickname, the "sea panda." Just like the panda, it is near the brink of extinction.
Many vaquitas are caught in gillnets each year, decreasing their population critically. With less than a hundred of them left, they need our help now more than ever. Considering that we humans decreased their population in the first place, it is our responsibility to help save them. Humans weren't created with amazing brains and put at the top of the food chain for nothing - we were created as protectors of our planet and all of the animals, plants and people on it.
We and we alone are responsible for the vaquitas' critically endangered status. It's our time to make things right. This should be our way of giving back to nature all that we have taken from it - we will save one of the most unique (and adorable) species on this earth - the vaquita.
Julia Drennan, age 12
"All that needs to be done is completely ban the use of
gillnets and totoaba nets throughout the vaquitas' range, and
this species will most likely recover."
The reason we need to save the vaquita is because they are a very unique species. They are the smallest cetacean species in the world and are very different from other porpoises. We still know very little about the vaquita's behavior and ecology in the wild. Most people don't even know that the vaquita exists. This is our last opportunity to learn about and study this rare cetacean before it disappears forever... unless we act now.
The vaquita's habitat is still clean and healthy. The waters of the Sea of Cortez, where vaquitas live, are not polluted. Besides the gillnets and totoaba nets which kill many vaquitas every year, there are no other major threats to the vaquita. All that needs to be done is completely ban the use of gillnets and totoaba nets throughout the vaquitas' range, and this species will most likely recover.
Also, if we save the vaquita from extinction this will be an amazing conservation success story, inspiring people not to give up on endangered species. This little porpoise, that most people have never heard of, could go down in history as a great conservation success and remind people that it's never too late to make a difference.
Audrey Myers, age 13
"If we lost them, we would be losing a member of
our family of creatures on our home called Earth."
I think it is very important to Save The Vaquita Porpoises. They may be small but like all cetaceans, their hearts are huge and ours should be too. We need to reach out to these little creatures to stop their extinction.
The vaquitas mainly try to avoid boats, so the fact that more and more of them are being caught in fishing nets means it's very important to find out where these porpoises are and stop people fishing them altogether.
I love all creatures, sea and land, and they all deserve a chance at life that other animals, now extinct, never got. All the threats to these porpoises have to stop. Even if the vaquitas' lives were not at stake, I would want all of it to stop, especially the pollution that is ruining more lives than just the whales.
These cute little creatures must be saved. They are actually extremely helpful to the world, even if we don't notice it. Although many other sea creatures keep the numbers of fish in order, the vaquitas help to do that too. You could say, "Oh, it's just one species, what will it hurt?" But that could happen to any of the sea creatures until they are all extinct. Then what? Just like on land, animals need to keep order so there isn't an overflow of too many animals. If we lost them, we would be losing a member of our family of creatures on our home called Earth.
Gabriella Wieder, age 14
VAQUITA CONTEST HONORABLE MENTION
David Myers, age 9
The reason I want to save the vaquita is because there are less than 100 of them left. They are threatened by drowning because of fishing nets that seem invisible to a vaquita. By the way, we don't want the pain that we had when the Yangtze River Dolphin became extinct.
Garrett Myers, age 7
The vaquita should be saved because they are cute and they deserve to live. Also because people want to see vaquitas and learn about them.
URGENT NEWS ABOUT VAQUITA
It was announced in late July by CIRVA 5 that the vaquita population is dwindling, and there are an estimated 97 individuals remaining. This is shocking news. The population was being demolished by fishing for shrimp and fish and accidental vaquita deaths by drowning. Then the Chinese began fishing for totoaba, an endangered fish, in order to harvest its swim bladder after which the fish is left to rot on the beach. The bladders, used as an aphrodisiac, bring thousands of dollars.The vaquita are killed when they are trapped in the totoaba nets. Now the vaquita and totoaba, both endangered, are being driven to extinction.
The Mexican Government is going to determine soon if the nets should all be removed in order to save the vaquita. Even if it is determined to remove the nets, it will be a lengthy process. The nets need to be removed NOW. The vaquita must be protected by Mexican law enforcement.