Rare Footage of Endangered Vaquita in Sea of Cortez
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April 24, 2015

Sea Shepherd Captures Rare Footage of Elusive Vaquita During First Sighting since 2013 (Sea Shepherd Conservation Society)

The Sea Shepherd Conservation Society has captured rare footage of the elusive and endangered vaquita porpoise in the waters of Mexico’s Gulf of California, the small cetacean’s only home on Earth. The sighting marks the first time since 2013 the shy creature has been spotted and filmed in the Sea of Cortez. The vaquita documented by the crew of Sea Shepherd USA’s Operation Milagro (Operation Miracle) campaign is one of only 97 remaining members of its species, considered by many to be the rarest marine mammal in the world.

The Sea Shepherd crew filmed and photographed as they encountered the lone porpoise on April 18, while documenting within the vaquitas’ marine refuge. The footage will be shared with the scientific community to contribute to the vitally important study and understanding of the dwindling vaquita population.

Sea Shepherd has been present in the Sea of Cortez for more than a month, with an international crew of volunteers aboard the research sailing vessel, R/V Martin Sheen. Captain Oona Layolle and her crew are documenting the plight of the vaquita population, collecting data in order to collaborate in efforts dedicated to vaquita conservation. Sea Shepherd has also been conducting outreach in the region, meeting with marine biologists, vaquita experts and other NGOs working locally to save these endangered porpoises from the irreversible fate of extinction.

The smallest of all seven porpoise species, the vaquita is also the smallest cetacean in the world. These petite porpoises are particularly vulnerable to population decline, with a slower rate of reproduction than that of other porpoises – giving birth to only one calf every two years. They have a comparatively short lifespan of approximately 20 years, and have never been held in captivity. Of the less than 100 remaining vaquitas, only 25 are believed to be females of reproductive age.

Read the rest at SeaShepherd.org | En Español

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