Mexico captures rare vaquita porpoise in bid to save species

A six-month old calf — the first vaquita ever captured — was caught last month but had to be released as it was too young to be separated from its mother. (AFP)
Updated 05 November 2017
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Mexico captures rare vaquita porpoise in bid to save species

MEXICO CITY: Mexico said Saturday it had captured a rare vaquita marina porpoise — a female of reproductive age — as part of a last-ditch bid to save the critically endangered species.
The vaquita, the world’s smallest porpoise, has been pushed to the brink of extinction by illegal gillnet fishing and there are just 30 left in the wild.
The Mexican government and conservation groups have launched an unprecedented plan to save the species by transporting as many as possible to a protected marine reserve.
“The @VaquitaCPR team has managed to capture another vaquita marina,” Mexican Environment Minister Rafael Pacchiano tweeted, adding that the animal is in the care of veterinarians.
A six-month old calf — the first vaquita ever captured — was caught last month but had to be released as it was too young to be separated from its mother.
However the second porpoise “is an adult female and of reproductive age,” Pacchiano said on Twitter. “It’s a great achievement that fills us with hope.”
The initiative, which began field operations in October, is attempting to locate the remaining vaquitas using acoustic monitoring, visual searches and dolphins trained by the US navy.
Captured vaquitas will be transported to a marine sanctuary, where it is hoped they will breed before being released back into the wild.
The vaquita has been nearly wiped out by gillnets used to fish for another species, the also endangered totoaba fish, whose swim bladder is considered a delicacy in China and can fetch $20,000 per kilogram.
In June, Mexico announced a series of measures to protect the vaquita, including a permanent ban on gillnets in its habitat.
In all, the government has committed more than $100 million to protecting the vaquita while supporting the local fishing community.


King Abdul Aziz City for Science and Technology unveils self-guided Black Shark boat at 38th GITEX Technology Week

The development of the Black Shark smart boat is part of a KACST initiative to localize and transform transport technology and logistics, to help achieve the aims of Vision 2030. (SPA)
Updated 20 October 2018
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King Abdul Aziz City for Science and Technology unveils self-guided Black Shark boat at 38th GITEX Technology Week

  • These trucks are equipped with electronic pairing technologies, which effectively improve the shipping and distributing of goods, reduce human error

JEDDAH: King Abdul Aziz City for Science and Technology (KACST) has unveiled its Black Shark self-guided boat at the 38th GITEX Technology Week in Dubai. The vessel, which can carry out coastal surveillance and many other tasks, was developed in collaboration with Taqnia for Robotics and Smart Systems.
The development of the craft is part of a KACST initiative to localize and transform transport technology and logistics, to help achieve the aims of Vision of 2030.
The boat includes sensor systems that allow it to monitor and create a 3D map of a 200-meter area surrounding the boat, and automated control technology that gives it the ability to navigate independently and avoid collisions without human input. It can also be equipped with a flexible range of weapons, acting as a firearms platform that uses gyroscopic self-balancing technology. It has the ability to survey beaches at a range of 15 kilometers, in addition to accurately identifying its precise location with a margin of error of less than 20 centimeters using differential GPS, as well as specifying, monitoring and tracking targets.
The Black Shark also has long-range radar that covers up to 150 kilometers, and a telecommunication system to track its location, monitor its status and connect to multiple domains through command centers that allow wireless communication and remote control. It is fitted with a digital camera powered by electro-optic and infrared technology that can produce HD-quality video, and also has night vision capability.
As part of its initiative to develop transport technology and logistics, KACST has also worked on automated control technology, included self-driving heavy-duty trucks, with the University of California, Berkeley. These trucks are equipped with electronic pairing technologies, which effectively improve the shipping and distributing of goods, reduce human error, preserve resources, and reduce harmful emissions and fuel consumption.
The same technology can also, for example, transform a four-wheel-drive vehicle into a remote-controlled vehicle equipped with video cameras, infrared technology, a microphone and a control device wirelessly connected to a command center, where an operator can guide it using images from the video cameras.