Mexico's president reacts to pressure from Leonardo DiCaprio to save a species.

On May 10, 2017, actor and activist Leonardo DiCaprio took to Twitter to save a marine species.

"The vaquita is the most endangered marine mammal in the world," he wrote of the species, which can only be found off Mexico's shores in the Gulf of California. "Join me [and the World Wildlife Fund] and take action."

It may seem like an average tweet, coming from one of the biggest environmental advocates in the world. But the tweet has had global ramifications.


Photo by National Geographic Channel, courtesy of the Everett Collection.

As DiCaprio noted in a Facebook post that same day, unsustainable fishing has caused a steep decline in the total number of vaquitas.

There may only be 30 left in the gulf right now — a 90% drop since 2011 — which also explains why there seem to be so few photos of the rare porpoise in the wild.

A rare photo of a vaquita. Photo by World Wildlife Fund.

One major reason for the falling numbers is China's hunger for the totoaba fish, which also only lives in the Gulf of California. Mexican fishermen use massive gill nets to catch the totoaba and ship the marine animals to China — an illegal practice in itself. But all too often, vaquitas get caught in these nets and are needlessly killed.

This doesn't just affect the vaquita either. Illegal fishing is harming many other marine species in the region, too — species that local communities rely on for food and business.

DiCaprio linked to a petition by the World Wildlife Fund calling on Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto to act now to save the species in his Facebook post and tweet.

Among other demands, the letter urges the president to implement and enforce a permanent gill net fishing ban.

Photo by Alfredo Estrella/AFP/Getty Images.

To Nieto's credit, his government has taken some steps to save the vaquita.

In 2015, Mexico implemented a two-year gill net fishing ban. But it wasn't properly enforced, advocates argued, which helps to explain why vaquita numbers continued to dwindle. What's more, what little effect the ban did have on dissuading fisherman is now gone entirely because the ban expired in April 2017.

DiCaprio's posts did actually catch the attention of the Mexican president, who responded on Twitter.

In a series of tweets, Nieto explained how his government has upped efforts to save the vaquita in recent years, such as expanding its protection zone in the gulf and committing 300 marines and 15 boats to monitor the area.

Still, DiCaprio's call to act seemed to spark new urgency from the Mexican president, who made a very public commitment to ensure the vaquita won't be lost forever.

Not everyone has over 17 million Twitter followers like DiCaprio, but we all have a voice.

Use it to tweet your support for the Word Wildlife Fund's petition and put more pressure on Nieto and Mexico to save the vaquita.

Heroes
Photo by Toni Hukkanen on Unsplash

Are looks more important than the ability to get through a long work day without ending up with eyes so dry and painful you wish you could pop them out of your face? Many employers in Japan don't permit their female employees to wear glasses while at work. Big shocker, male employees are totally allowed to sport a pair of frames. The logic behind it (if you can call it that) is that women come off as "cold" and "unfeminine" and – horror of all horrors – "too intelligent."

Women are given excuses as to why they can't wear glasses to work. Airline workers are told it's a safety thing. Beauty industry workers are told they need to see makeup clearly. But men apparently don't have the same safety issues as women, because they're allowed to wear their glasses square on the face. Hospitality staff, waitresses, receptionists at department stores, and nurses at beauty clinics are some of the women who are told to pop in contacts while they're on the clock.

Keep Reading Show less
Culture
via The Guardian / YouTube

Beluga whales are affectionately known as sea canaries for their song-like vocalizations, and their name is the Russian word for "white."

They are sociable animals that live, hunt, and migrate together in pods, ranging from a few individuals to hundreds of whales. However, they are naturally reticent to interact with humans, although some solitary belugas are known to approach boats.

Once such beluga that's believed to live in Norwegian waters is so comfortable among humans that it played fetch with a rugby ball.

Keep Reading Show less
popular

No reward comes without risk - or in the case of Vilnius - risqué. The capitol city of Lithuania has a population of 570,000 and regularly makes lists as an underrated and inexpensive European destination. Lonely Planet called it a "hidden gem" of Europe. In 2016, it was rated the third cheapest destination for a bachelor party in Europe by FairFX. And you've probably never heard of it. In August of 2018, the city started running racy ads to increase tourism, calling it the "G-spot of Europe." The ad features a woman grabbing a map of Europe, clutching the spot where Vilnius is located. "Nobody knows where it is, but when you find it – it's amazing," reads the caption.

VILNIUS - THE G-SPOT OF EUROPE youtu.be

Keep Reading Show less
popular

The truth doesn't hurt for an elementary school teacher in California who's gone viral for teaching her class an empowering remix of one of Lizzo's hit songs.

Ms. Mallari — who teaches at Los Medanos Elementary School in Pittsburg, east of San Francisco — took the singer's song, "Truth Hurts," and reworked the lyrics to teach her students how to be great.

Lizzo's song made history this year for being the longest running number one single from a female rap artist. The catchy original lyrics are about boy problems, but Mallari's remix teaches her students about fairness, helping each other out, and embracing their own greatness.

Keep Reading Show less
popular