+
It’s save the vaquita week. What you should know about the world’s most adorable and endangered porpoise.
via Brandt Witt / Twitter

via Brandt Witt / Twitter

The vaquita is an innocent bystander that may go extinct as Mexican cartels battle for the "cocaine of the sea."

Less than two dozen of the smallest porpoise on Earth exist due to gill net fishermen in the Gulf of Mexico trying to catch the endangered totoaba fish. Totoaba are falsely believed to have medicinal purposes and China and can be sold for up to $100,000.

Cartels in Mexico purchase totoaba from poachers and then sell them to Chinese traders.

In 2016, the Mexican government banned gill nets from most fisheries in the Gulf of California, but they haven't done enough to hold the poachers accountable.

The gill nets used by the totoaba poachers are anchored to the sea floor floor so when the vaquita are snared they are unable to get to the surface to breathe. "These nets are anchored to the seafloor and so they can't pull those nets up to the surface to take a breath," Cynthia Smith, executive director of the National Marine Mammal Foundation told "Nightline." "So, a marine mammal or a sea turtle — they're going to drown really quickly."

via NOAA / Wikimedia Commons

Today, less than two dozen vaquita live in the gulf. The species is experiencing an 8% to 19% decline per year.

The vaquita or "sea cow" in Spanish, is the smallest species of porpoise on earth at about five feet in length and they live for around 20 years. It has a distinct body shape and a dark eye rings and lip patches on its face that resemble goth makeup.

They tend to live in groups of three and live on small fish and squid.

According to ABC News, the vaquita may only last for another six to eight months.

While the odds are stacked against the vaquita, a new documentary "Sea of Shadows" chronicles the two-front war being fought for its survival. The film chronicles the work of conservationist Andrea Crosta as he fights the cartels and traffickers on land and Smith's battle to rehabilitate them at sea.

"From the outside it looks like an environmental story, right? But if you dive in, you understand the role of transnational crime, the narco trafficking, working with Chinese traffickers," Crosta said. "They form what we call Totoaba cartels because they work in the same way, with the incredible power to corrupt, all over the place."

For more information on how you can help fight to save the vaquita from extinction, please visit vivavaquita.com.

This article originally appeared on 04.15.19


On May 28, 2014, 13-year-old Athena Orchard of Leicester, England, died of bone cancer. The disease began as a tumor in her head and eventually spread to her spine and left shoulder. After her passing, Athena's parents and six siblings were completely devastated. In the days following her death, her father, Dean, had the difficult task of going through her belongings. But the spirits of the entire Orchard family got a huge boost when he uncovered a secret message written by Athena on the backside of a full-length mirror.

Keep ReadingShow less
via Pixabay

A beautiful Christmas tree lot.

Hallmark has produced more than 300 holiday-themed movies over the past decade and they tend to be romantic comedies or stories about families that reunite around Christmas. The movies are meant to be comfort food on a cold winter’s night, so no one seems to mind that they’re filled with predictable plot lines and cliches.

Hallmark movies have become a big part of America's holiday tradition. Last year, more than 80 million people watched at least part of one.

Each film usually begins with a single woman in a small, quaint town having a meet-ugly or a meet-cute with her love interest. In a meet-ugly scenario, the boy and girl are either adversaries in a cause or inadvertently injure one another in a freak accident. If it's a meet-cute scenario, the two randomly run into each other and have an instant connection.

Regardless of how they meet, the couple falls for each other and then a major misunderstanding drives them apart before they are brought together again

Writer Shyla Watson went Christmas tree shopping on November 27 and inadvertently found herself in a situation that resembled the first act of a Hallmark holiday movie. Her tweet about it quickly went viral, receiving more than 72,000 likes.

Keep ReadingShow less
Photo by Roméo A. on Unsplash

Cat hilariously rats out owner in front of the landlord.

Maybe it's a right of passage into adulthood or maybe some landlords discriminate against pets because they can't tell people kids are forbidden in their residence. Either way, just about everyone has lived in a rental home that didn't allow pets. Most people just abide by the rules and vow to get a pet when they find a new home.

Some people, on the other hand, get creative. I once came across a post on social media where someone claimed their pit bull puppy was actually a silver Labrador. But one woman on TikTok was harboring a secret cat in her rental that had a no pets policy, and either her cat was unaware or he was aware and was simply being a jerk.

My money is on the latter since cats are known to be jerks for no reason. I mean, have you ever left something on the counter for a few minutes? They make it their mission to knock it on the floor. So I fully believe this fluffy little meow box wanted to make his presence known in an effort to rat out his owner.

Keep ReadingShow less
Pop Culture

The Gen X grief when a 'Sesame Street' character dies is so real

We're the first generation to have educational programs molding our core memories.

Bob McGrath, one of the original "Sesame Street" actors, has passed away.

"A loaf of bread, a container of milk and a stick of butter."

It's a simple, repeated line from a one-minute sketch, but as a Gen Xer raised on public television, it's one of thousands of "Sesame Street" segments etched into my brain. Such memories still pop into my head at random times, clear as day, well into my forties. Bert singing about his oatmeal box while playing it like a drum. Kermit lamenting that it's not easy—but it is beautiful—being green. Buffy Saint-Marie breastfeeding her baby and explaining it to Big Bird. Mr. Hooper—the sweet, bow-tied man who ran the Sesame Street corner store—dying.

I was 8 when Mr. Hooper died. It was a big deal. I rewatched part of that episode recently to see what I'd think of it as an adult. The "Sesame Street" gang of 1983 handled it masterfully, helping us all process his unexpected death through Big Bird's own experience of learning about what it means to die.

Keep ReadingShow less