You are on page 1of 9

Vaquita

(Phocoena
sinus)
Endangered animals

Vaquita
Vaquita, the worlds most rare marine
mammal, is on the edge of extinction. This
little porpoise wasn't discovered until 1958
and a little over half a century later, we
are on the brink of losing them forever.
Vaquita are often caught and drowned in
gillnets used by illegal fishing operations
in marine protected areas within Mexico's
Gulf of California. More than half of the
population has been lost in the last three
years.

Physical description:
The vaquita has a large dark ring
around its eyes and dark patches
on its lips that form a thin line from
the mouth to the pectoral fins. Its
dorsal surface is dark gray, sides
pale gray and ventral surface white
with long, light gray markings.
The vaquita is the smallest of all
cetaceans. The current known
maximum length is 411/1.5 m,
and the weight about 99-110 lp/4550kg. Females are larger than
males, as is the case with most
species of the porpoise family.

Ecology
The species is thought to be primarily
solitary. Individuals are generally
seen travelling alone or in small
groups of 1-3 individuals, although
they
are
sometimes
observed
swimming in groups as large as ten.
Like other porpoises, the vaquita
uses
sonar
as
a
means
of
communicating
and
navigating
through its habitat. It feeds primarily
on teleost (bony) fish and squid
which are found at or near the
bottom of the sea.

Habitat
Lives in shallow, murky lagoons along the
shoreline where there is strong tidal mixing,
convection
processes
and
high
food
availability. The species is rarely seen in
waters deeper than 30 m. The water
temperatures
here
fluctuate
annually,
ranging from 14C in January to as high as
30C in August. The vaquita is the only
species of porpoise to live in such warm
waters, and is unique in its ability to tolerate
these large fluctuations in temperature.

Distribution
This species has the most limited
distribution of any marine cetacean. It
is found only in shallow waters at the
northern end of the Gulf of California,
from Puertecitos, Baja California Norte,
north and east to Puerto Peflasco,
Sonora. It is most commonly found
around the Colorado River delta. The
distribution in the upper Gulf of
California
appears
to
be
highly
localized, with the highest densities
offshore of San Felipe and Rocas
Consag, and offshore of El Golfo de
Santa Clara.

What is being done to save the vaquita from


extinction?
The main threat to the vaquita is
incidental catches in fishing gear,
especially gillnets set for shrimp and fish.
The shrimp is destined for the US market
where it is now that nations most popular
seafood choice. The estimated mortality
from gillnet fishing is at least 39 (an
maybe as many as 84) vaquitas per year,
which is certainly unsustainable.
The government of Mexico is currently
developing a plan to remove entangling
nets
from
the
vaquitas
range,
compensate fishermen with alternative
livelihood options, and enforce net
removal. The impact of these activities on
local
fishing
communities
will
be
significant and because of this, a critical
part of the conservation plan is to monitor

SAVE THE VAQUITA

QUESTIONS
What is the Vaquitas scientific name?
In what year was Vaquita discovered?
Where can you find it?