The vaquita or California porpoise (Phocoena sinus) is not only one of the smallest porpoise species, with a body length of only about 1.20 m, but also the cetacean species with probably the smallest range. Vaquitas are found exclusively in the northernmost part of the Gulf of California in shallow coastal waters and lagoons. In these nutrient-rich areas, they feed on smaller fish, as well as squid and crustaceans. In total, the distribution area covers only 4,000 km², an area only slightly larger than that of the island of Mallorca.

Ordnung: Cetacea (Wale)
Familie: Phocoenidae (Schweinswale)
Kalifornischer Schweinswal  Phocoena sinus
Vaquita porpoise
Größe: < 1,50 M
Gewicht: < 50 kg
Tragzeit: 10-11 Monate
Generationszeit ca. 10 Jahre
Verbreitung: Mexiko, nördlicher Golf von Kalifornien
Lebensraum: flache Küstengewässer (< 40 m)
Bestand: vom Aussterben bedroht (ca. 10 – 13 Tiere – Stand: Juli 2023)

Vaquita porpoise Vaquitas California porpoise phocoena sinus
© Jörg Mazur

The body of the vaquitas is gray in color, with the distinct dark gray to black coloration in the mouth area and the dark annular coloration around the eyes distinguishing the vaquita from other porpoise species.
It has an unusually large dorsal fin (fin) for harbor porpoises.

Vaquita underwater Phocoena sinus California porpoise Vaquita marina porpoise

With a population of only 9 remaining animals (as of the end of 2022), the vaquita is the most critically endangered porpoise species. IUCN Red List
Illegal set net fishing in particular kills too many of the few remaining vaquitas year after year.
Recent population counts from 2023 show that the vaquita population has recovered slightly, with 10 to 13 individuals. Among them are one or two calves, which makes us a little more hopeful.

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YAQU PACHA Project Vaquita

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