60 Minutes correspondent Sharyn Alfonsi travels to the Gulf of California in Mexico to investigate the most endangered sea mammal in the world, the vaquita, the smallest of the seven species of porpoise. Alfonsi interviews American and Mexican researchers there who are trying to monitor the mammals in the Gulf, which isn’t easy. It’s believed there are less than 100 left and they are “notoriously known for being shy and elusive.”
Vaquita are often caught and drowned in nets set by fisherman looking for totoaba fish which is a high-ticket item in China. The bladders of totoaba, which is also an endangered species, sell well in China, where totoaba bladders are used in soup. Barbara Taylor, a conservation biologist with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (an agency within the Department of Commerce), says more government interference is needed. “Marine mammals show an amazing capacity to recover if you just stop killing them,” says Taylor. 60 Minutes airs Sundays at 7pm and 8pm on CBS.