In the northern part of the Gulf of California, lives a highly elusive marine mammal that many didn’t even know it exists. Unfortunately, these majestic creatures might soon disappear, because the last reports show there are less than 10 left in the world. Everyone, meet the vaquita porpoise. The rarest marine mammal on Earth!
The Phocoena sinus, or commonly know as the vaquita, is a tiny porpoise that lives in the Gulf of California. These secretive marine creatures can grow up to 5 feet long and weigh up to 120 pounds. For many years, the species was listed as endangered, but over the last two decades or so, their population has drastically declined. There were around 600 vaquitas in 1997, but sadly their numbers went down to less than 30 in roughly 20 years. Now, these gorgeous creatures are on the edge of extinction with around 10 left in existence!
Vaquita, which means “little cow” in Spanish, looks more like a panda though. They were even nick-named sea pandas, due to their black color around the eyes. That’s what makes them so special and unique, besides the fact of being the only porpoise able to live in warm waters.
It’s #EndangeredSpeciesDay : a reminder that there are too many species that fit the definition of ‘endangered’. The vaquita is the smallest and most endangered cetacean with as few as 10 individuals left. We work to help species like the vaquita; they give us porpoise. pic.twitter.com/4wuiWIb8WB
— The Carmichael Lab – Dauphin Island Sea Lab (@CarmichaelLab) May 21, 2022
Unlike other animal species, that went extinct or are in danger of extinction, because of poaching, in vaquita’s situation is different. There were the fishing practices that lead to the species’ devastating decline!
As it turned out, the Mexican fishermen are using gill nets, mostly to catch the totoaba – which is also an endangered fish species. This fish is a delicacy in China where it can reach up to $ 50,000. So these gill nets, are a deadly trap not just for the totoaba, but for the vaquitas too. Even although, both using these type of nets as well as the totoaba fishing are forbidden in Mexico, some local fishermen continue these practices.
#ICYMI: New research shows there may be hope for the endangered vaquita porpoise. Their small population of 10 still has enough genetic diversity to recover — if we act now to protect them from gillnets. https://t.co/OL3iatb63w
— Center for Biological Diversity (@CenterForBioDiv) May 16, 2022
But even so, there is still hope. As a fact, a conservation group tried to rescue the remaining vaquitas and help them to thrive in captivity. Nevertheless, their first attempt was pretty disappointing. The group named Vaquita CPR, managed to rescue a vaquita female, yet the creature proved to be too stressed due to its relocation, to be able to reproduce. Sadly, she even passed away, shortly after she was released back in the ocean.
— Greenpeace (@Greenpeace) May 20, 2022
Let’s all hope that these stunning creature will be eventually saved! In the video below you can watch some very rare sightings of these mystical creatures!