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November 18, 2017  |  Login

Vaquita
Phocoena sinus

What Are They Like?

The Vaquita is the smallest of the cetaceans (porpoises, whales, dolphins), and is rarely seen in the wild. An adult Vaquita can grow to 5 feet (1.5 meters) in length and can weigh up to 110 pounds (50 kilograms). The Vaquita's skin is grey , and its body is similar in build to that of other porpoises. The Vaquita is distinguished by the large dark rings around its eyes and mouth.

Where Do They Live?

Vaquitas inhabit the warm shallow waters at the northern end of the Gulf of California. Their range within this area is extremely limited. In 1993, the Mexican Government created the Upper Gulf of California Biosphere Reserve to protect their habitat.

 
Did You Know?
Vaquita means "little cow" in Spanish.

How Are Babies Made?

The Vaquita gives birth to a single calf approximately every two years during the spring months. A calf is born weighing about 17 pounds (8 kilograms) and measuring between 28-32 inches (71-81 centimeters)in length. Vaquitas have a gestation period that lasts ten or eleven months.

What Do They Eat?

The Vaquita diet consists mainly of small fish and squid that are caught close to shore

 

What Do They Do?

Vaquitas live either alone or in small groups of up to ten animals. The Vaquita navigates through the Gulf using high frequency clicks for echolocation. These animals are extremely wary of boats and humans, so very little information has been recorded regarding their individual habits.

How Concerned Should We Be?

Very - the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN), which keeps a "Red List" of species in danger worldwide, lists the Vaquita as "critically endangered" and cites a population estimate of less than 600. Gillnets laid out by commercial fishermen pose the greatest threat; vaquitas become entangled in the mesh of the nets and asphyxiate, which leads to more than 30 deaths a year.

What's Being Done?

In 1997, the International Committee for the Recovery of the Vaquita (CIRVA) was formed, and has developed recommendations for the prohibition of large-mesh gillnets within the Vaquitas' range, and improved enforcement of fishing regulations in the Northern Gulf of California.

 

Vaquita Marina

 
 
 
 
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