The Facts

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  • The vaquita is also known as the ‘smiley panda of the sea’ due to the dark circles around its eyes and mouth.
  • Vaquitas have a comparatively short lifespan of approximately 20 years compared to other porpoises.
  • Vaquitas have never been held in captivity.
  • They have a slower rate of reproduction, birthing a calf every two years.
  • The vaquita has been listed as critically endangered since 1996. In 2019, United Nations Education, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) added the Gulf of California to its List of World Heritage in Danger due to the imminent extinction of the vaquita.
  • Estimates, based on acoustic research, indicate that there are less than 10 remaining.
  • 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.
  • A protected refuge for the vaquita was established in 2005 in an attempt to stop this marine mammal from falling victim as bycatch in the deadly gillnets. Unfortunately, due to a lack of enforcement, this measure failed to solve the problem and the vaquita population declined even further.

Latest Updates


Sea Shepherd Adds New Ship to Operation Milagro: Partnering to Protect the Vaquita

San Felipe, BC, Mexico - Jan 25, 2023 - Sea Shepherd Conservation Society debuted its…
Operation Milagro Reduces Illegal Fishing Activity in Vaquita Habitat by 72%
Direct Action: Sea Shepherd Working with the Mexican Navy to Remove Illegal Nets And Protect the Vaquita
Government of Mexico Announces Enhanced Vaquita Protection Plan