The Vaquita Porpoise
The vaquita, the world’s smallest cetacean, is found only in the northernmost tip of the Gulf of California, also known as the Sea of Cortez. It is estimated that there are fewer than 30 individuals of this beautiful species remaining in the sea today. Sea Shepherd is determined to help this shy and elusive porpoise beat the odds, bringing about a miracle to restore the vaquita population from the brink of extinction.
About the vaquita:
- The vaquita is the most endangered marine mammal in the world.
- Estimates based on acoustic research indicate that there are less than 60 vaquita remaining.
- Of the 30 individuals, it is estimated that less than half are reproductive age females.
- The vaquita inhabit only the waters of the upper Gulf of California.
- The vaquita population has decreased by 18.5% per year in recent years.
- The government of Mexico, determined to prevent the vaquita’s extinction, enacted a two-year moratorium on fishing with gillnets in the vaquita’s habitat.
- The vaquita is also known as the “smiley panda of the sea” because of the dark circles around its eyes and mouth.
- Vaquita have a comparatively short lifespan of approximately 20 years compared to other porpoises and have never been held in captivity. With a slower rate of reproduction than that of other porpoises – they birth up to only one calf every two years – these petite porpoises are being wiped out faster than they can reproduce.
The vaquita has been listed as critically endangered since 1996. Scientists have been warning for nearly 20 years that the only way to save the vaquita is to eliminate the presence of gillnets in the only region that this species calls home.