Most endangered marine mammal in the world; possibly as few as ten individuals left!



Most endangered marine mammal in the world; possibly as few as ten individuals left!

Population 18
45% decline per year and may be extinct in a few years

The vaquita, often dubbed the “panda of the sea,” stands out as a unique species among porpoises due to its preference for warm waters, setting it apart from its cold-water dwelling counterparts. Despite its distinctiveness, the vaquita is also the most elusive and rarest of all aquatic mammals, adding to its mystique and allure. For many years, the vaquita remained shrouded in myth and mystery, with sightings so rare that some believed it to be a creature of legend rather than a living species.

Today, the vaquita’s range is limited to the northern part of the Gulf of California and the adjacent waters of the Sea of Cortez, Mexico. Within this narrow habitat, the vaquita navigates the complex marine ecosystems of these regions, facing numerous threats to its survival. Chief among these threats is incidental bycatch in illegal gillnets used for fishing in the upper Gulf of California. The vaquita’s small population size, combined with its limited distribution and low reproductive rate, exacerbates the risk of extinction from these human-induced pressures.

While the vaquita’s plight is dire, there remains a window of opportunity to prevent its extinction. Conservation efforts spearheaded by scientists, conservationists, and governmental agencies have sought to address the primary threat to the vaquita’s survival by implementing measures to ban the use of gillnets in its critical habitat. These efforts have garnered widespread support and recognition from the international community, highlighting the urgency of protecting this iconic species from the brink of extinction.

Despite these conservation initiatives, the future of the vaquita remains uncertain, and the need for additional action is paramount. Public awareness and engagement play a crucial role in raising the profile of the vaquita’s plight and mobilizing support for conservation efforts. By spreading awareness about the vaquita’s plight and advocating for its protection, individuals can contribute to collective efforts aimed at safeguarding this unique marine mammal for future generations.


Population est.
Official estimate
Gulf of California
Pacific ocean
Official estimate
Eastern central
Gulf of Mexico

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Terrestrial / Aquatic

Altricial / Precocial

Polygamous / Monogamous

Dimorphic (size) / Monomorphic

Active: Diurnal / Nocturnal

Social behavior: Solitary / Pack / Herd / Group

Diet: Carnivore / Herbivore / Omnivore / Piscivorous / Insectivore

Migratory: Yes / No

Domesticated: Yes / No

Dangerous: Yes / No