Burmeister’s porpoises are a very poorly known species, that suffers from bycatch and targeted hunting; their meat is often used as crab bait. Despite these continued takes, we have very little idea of their population size and trend. Scientist fear they may quietly be going extinct, gone before we know it. To prevent them following the fate of the closely related vaquita, scientists are hoping to start a research programme in South America that should shed some light on how they are doing.
For a long time, only dead specimens were available to western scientists. Like most cetaceans, Burmeister’s strongly discolour after death, leading to the belief they were plain black. More recent observations of live and freshly dead animals has revealed a steely grey porpoise with fine and intricate markings. Portrayed are a mother and calf in all their pretty glory, practising the hunt of Chilean silversides – one of their main prey. Practise for the future, because one day the calf will have to fend for himself and do his own hunting.
The title was a very late addition to this piece. But in a way it is fitting. Together, these two are investing in the future: the future of the calf and thus their entire species. And by supporting research and conservation measure for species like the Burmeister’s porpoise, we too are investing in a future, one where ecosystems are still healthy and biodiversity is maintained.