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Captive Breeding for Vaquitas?

Discussion in 'Wildlife & Nature Conservation' started by Loxodonta Cobra, 17 Dec 2016.

  1. Loxodonta Cobra

    Loxodonta Cobra Well-Known Member

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  2. vogelcommando

    vogelcommando Well-Known Member

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    With a decline of 40 % annually I guess this could / would be the only possibility to save the species !
     
  3. Coelacanth18

    Coelacanth18 Well-Known Member Premium Member

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    I agree, and in fact I think this should have been done sooner. The population is so small now that they can't afford fatal accidents or husbandry challenges; there is no longer any room for trial and error. Hopefully things go in their favor and the species is able to grow in numbers while they manage the situation with ghost nets and rogue fishermen.
     
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  4. TheMightyOrca

    TheMightyOrca Well-Known Member

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    I'm not optimistic about this, it's quite risky, but I don't oppose it. And I hate to say it, but it's probably the only option at this point. Not like I have any better ideas.

    I really wish this kind of thing was started sooner. If the vaquita population was at 300 or something, losing a few animals to this wouldn't be so devastating, there would be some room for experimentation and error. But if even a few animals die from this, it's gonna be a huge blow.

    My best expectations are that they'll survive in captivity long enough for the government to do something about the illegal fishing and nets. (though if they can successfully breed, I'll explode with excitement)
     
  5. Loxodonta Cobra

    Loxodonta Cobra Well-Known Member

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    Having heard how difficult it is already to breed cetaceans that have been studied immensely in captivity such as bottlenose dolphins and beluga whales, I really wonder if the Mexican government can pull this off. As a last, last resort, they can maybe get some DNA and samples so that the species can be cloned back from somewhere like the San Diego Frozen Zoo. I don't know. I agree that this should've been done sooner. Specimens should have been captured to see how they would get on in captivity in the first place. Then we could actually know what it takes and how to keep vacquitas in captivity. Here we have to deal with an animal species that has never been kept outside of their natural habitat before, at a time when this should've been done years ago, we have no idea how to breed them, and where the hell are they even going to be kept?
     
  6. Merintia

    Merintia Well-Known Member

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    At this point, is the only hope for the species, so I agree with the captures. But I´m afraid it will be totally unuseful. A captive breeding program should have started many years ago, when the population was still "big" enough to don´t make necessary to capture all the animals possible, and as some of you already have pointed, with room for errors. Cetaceans are not easy animals to breed, not easy even to keep in captivity. And anyway, even if they are succesful, with only about eight breeding females, inbreeding will happen soon or later. I know other species have been saved with even smaller breeding groups, but with a cetacean... At least the captive animals will bring us some more knowledge about the species, but I think we´ll see the same history we already have lived with Baiji.
     
  7. TheMightyOrca

    TheMightyOrca Well-Known Member

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    https://www.mmc.gov/wp-content/uploads/CIRVA-7-Final-Report.pdf

    So this report from May by CIRVA discusses vaquita conservation strategies, including the possibility of captivity. (skip to pages 28 or 45 for the captivity related stuff) They're just possibilities, but worth the read.

    We're all talking about keeping them, but even if they can do that, capture is gonna be a major issue. (hell, I won't be surprised if capture is a bigger challenge than keeping) The vaquita is notoriously elusive. A capture operation is gonna have to be very big and very hardcore, especially if they have to gather animals in a short period of time. (side note, the paper I linked brings up the possibility of using trained bottlenose dolphins to locate vaquitas. That caught my eye, does anyone know if that kind of thing has been done before?)
     
  8. TheMightyOrca

    TheMightyOrca Well-Known Member

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    I expect that vaquita captivity has slightly better odds than baiji captivity, but that's not really saying much. Multiple places have successfully kept porpoises in captivity, whereas captive river dolphins have been much rarer. Plus the program to keep and breed finless porpoises in a semi-natural environment has been quite successful. (but that's not to say the vaquita program won't be risky, they are a different species, and one we know very little about at that) Right now a big concern is whether they'll even be able to capture enough, or any, for the program. A captivity program may have saved the baiji if it was started much earlier, but by the time they started, baiji had gotten so rare and they only captured a few, and only one survived long-term. Like you, I fear the vaquita will meet the same fate.
     
  9. Coelacanth18

    Coelacanth18 Well-Known Member Premium Member

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    And most likely the Ganges River dolphin as well...
     
  10. TheMightyOrca

    TheMightyOrca Well-Known Member

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    Still has a decent chance, if something is actually done. I'd support a captive breeding program for them just in case, though.
     
  11. Loxodonta Cobra

    Loxodonta Cobra Well-Known Member

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    Agreed. Start now while there are still numbers of the species.
     
  12. TheMightyOrca

    TheMightyOrca Well-Known Member

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    So you know how that paper I posted mentioned the possibility of using trained bottlenose dolphins to locate vaquitas? Turns out they're actually going for it. That surprises me, I thought they were just throwing around ideas with that. I wonder if it would work?

    Navy dolphins to help locate rare vaquita porpoise
     
  13. Loxodonta Cobra

    Loxodonta Cobra Well-Known Member

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    Even then, how will they catch them without damaging them?
     
  14. TheMightyOrca

    TheMightyOrca Well-Known Member

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    Page 47 of the CIRVA report I linked earlier discusses possible capture techniques and recommends the ones that minimize risk the most.
     
  15. Loxodonta Cobra

    Loxodonta Cobra Well-Known Member

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  16. TheMightyOrca

    TheMightyOrca Well-Known Member

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    What do you guys think about the use of military dolphins? I don't really know much about military dolphins so I can't make a guess as to whether it will work, so I'm curious to hear from someone who knows more. I certainly hope this whole thing works...
     
  17. wensleydale

    wensleydale Well-Known Member

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    I think the whole Dolphin thing will work. At the very least we should radio tag them, I've never quite understood why they can't find a way to attach them with some kind of strong glue rather than puncturing the skin.
     
  18. JVM

    JVM Well-Known Member

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    I'm willing to see this tried out. The fact of the matter is the Vaquita will go extinct without human intervention to save it, and knowing that, even the possibility of death in captivity sounds like a worthwhile risk, almost preferable to searching in ten years and finding none and wishing we'd tried something sooner.
     
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  19. TheMightyOrca

    TheMightyOrca Well-Known Member

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    Yeah, I'm not optimistic, but it's not like I have any better ideas.
     
  20. Loxodonta Cobra

    Loxodonta Cobra Well-Known Member

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    Same. Guess I'll be looking forward to this species being only in museums, tablets and books.