IUCN Species of the Day: Vaquita Porpoise


The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species(tm)

Photo credit: Thomas A. Jefferson

Note: Photos of vaquitas are very rare and most photos you will find are of dead ones, sadly. If you have photos of these porpoises, please feel free to share them with us for use in future stories about these animals–with credit given to the photographer, of course! You can e-mail them to us at bush warriors (at) gmail (dot) com


The Vaquita, Phocoena sinus, is listed as ‘CRITICALLY ENDANGERED’ on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species™. This small porpoise is restricted to the upper Gulf of California, Mexico, and has the unfortunate distinction of being the world’s most threatened cetacean species.

With a population estimated at only around 150, the Vaquita is undergoing a disastrous decline. The upper Gulf of California is intensively fished, and as a result the most serious threat to the Vaquita is entanglement in gillnets.

Since 2008, the Government of Mexico has established the Vaquita Refuge as a net-free fishing zone, and reduced the level of fishing effort in other areas through a combination of economic measures. Compensation for fishing permit holders who retire their permits or switch to other Vaquita-safe fishing methods, and improved enforcement to regulate illegal fishing have so far reduced the gillnet fishing effort by about a third. However, given the perilous status of the Vaquita, stronger measures are needed to ensure that all gillnets are removed from the entire range of the species.


Geographic Range of the Vaquita Porpoise

Credit: IUCN Red List of Threatened Species™


To learn more about the Vaquita Porpoise, click here. Or visit the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species™ by clicking their logo below.

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To learn more about the Bush Warriors “Species of the Day” feature, please click here and read up on our initiative to raise awareness about the loss of earth’s biodiversity.