The world’s smallest cetacean, the vaquita, is the animal most endangered of becoming extinct. This 5-foot-long, 120-pound animal is being devastated and soon will be gone forever!
The beauty of this pudgy porpoise is its large black eyes surrounded by white rings. A black strip runs around the lips, and it has an extra-high dorsal fin.
The vaquita live in the northern reaches of the Gulf of California, Sea of Cortez, Mexico. Here, where freshwater from the Colorado River empties into the gulf, they give birth to one calf in alternate years, diminishing the already dangerously low population.
The greatest cause of vaquita death is being caught in gill nets set to catch totoaba, a giant sea bass. These long vertical nets inadvertently snare vaquita, which fishermen leave to suffocate and die. The Mexican government outlaws gill nets in vaquita habitats. The Chinese buy totoaba swim bladders for maw soup and for medicinal purposes, providing an ample market for fishermen.
Contact the following organizations about the plight of the vaquita: National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, Fisheries Service, Southwest Regional Office, 562-980-3232; or Porpoise Conservation Society, 604-629-6112.
Robert L. Buyer