Meet the vaquita – the world’s rarest marine mammal. Vaquitas are the smallest porpoise in size – as well as the smallest in numbers. Sadly, this species on the brink of extinction. It’s estimated there are as few as 30 left, making them the most endangered cetacean in the world.
Vaquitas can only be found in one geographical location. They live in the shallow waters of the northern Gulf of California, Mexico. Within their small territory, Vaquitas exist as both predator and prey. Vaquitas serve as food sources for top predators, while conversely feeding on other species below them in the food chain, which helps maintain balance in those populations. Because of this, they play an important role in the ocean’s eco-system. We can’t know for certain the effects their disappearance would have on other oceanic life.
The most significant threat to the vaquita is accidental entanglement. They become by-catch in nets (gillnets) intended to catch other species. Unable to surface for air, they drown from the entanglement. The Mexican government permanently banned gillnet fishing in the Upper Gulf of California in 2017. However, illegal fishing operations continue to endanger this species, already at risk of extinction.
The vaquita is in urgent need of our support and protection. Take action by voicing your concerns and support for the government’s enforcement on the gillnet fishing ban.