These very pretty porpoises, conspicuous by the large black rings around their eyes and mouths, are rarely seen in the wild. A female will give birth to one calf every 2 years or so. Calves are between 28-31 inches long at birth, and weigh about 17 lbs. The species itself was only recognised in 1958 after the discovery of some skulls. In 1985, live animals were finally sighted and described. The vaquita, meaning ‘little cow’ in Spanish, is the smallest of all cetaceans, with a length of up to 5 feet. Females, as with all porpoises, are larger than males.
Turbid water with a high nutrient content
The upper Gulf of California, Mexico
What do they eat?
Mainly squid, croakers, fish and crabs.
Habitat loss, bycatch, pesticide pollution and reductions in waterflow into the Gulf from the Colorado River. Natural predators which include some species of shark.
Status: Critically Endangered
In 2006, when the baiji (lipotes vexillifer) was thought to have become extinct, the vaquita was declared the most endangered cetacean on the planet. It is estimated fewer than 250 individuals remain. On October 28, 2008, Canada, Mexico, and the United States launched the North American Conservation Action Plan (NACAP) to help the plight of the vaquita.
“In conservation, the motto should always be ‘never say die’.”