The vaquita, the world’s cutest and rarest porpoise, is teetering on the brink of extinction.

Only six to eight critically endangered vaquita marina porpoises were sighted this year in the Gulf of California. These precious marine mammals are facing an urgent crisis that demands our immediate attention and action.

What is a Vaquita?

Vaquitas (Phocoena sinus) are small, shy porpoises found exclusively in Mexico’s Upper Gulf of California. Known for their distinctive dark rings around their eyes and lips, these gentle creatures are the smallest cetaceans, measuring up to 5 feet (1.52 m) in length and weighing around 120 pounds (54.43 kg). Their endearing appearance and elusive nature make them a fascinating subject of study and conservation efforts.

The Grim Reality: Only a Few Vaquitas Left

The vaquita population has plummeted drastically in recent years. Currently, it is estimated that only about 6 to 8 vaquitas remain in the wild. This alarming decline is primarily due to illegal fishing practices, particularly the use of gillnets intended to catch the endangered totoaba fish. Vaquitas often become entangled in these nets, leading to their accidental capture and drowning.

The Totoaba Connection

Totoaba fish, also endangered, are highly sought after for their swim bladders, which are believed to have medicinal properties and are sold on the black market in China for exorbitant prices. The lucrative totoaba trade has fuelled rampant illegal fishing in the Upper Gulf of California, with devastating consequences for the vaquita.

How You Can Help Save the Vaquita

Saving the vaquita requires a concerted effort from governments, conservation organisations, and individuals worldwide. Here are some ways you can contribute to the cause:

1. Support Conservation Organisations

Organisations like Sea Shepherd are at the forefront of the battle to save the vaquita. Sea Shepherd’s Operation Milagro is dedicated to removing illegal gillnets from the vaquita’s habitat, protecting these porpoises from becoming bycatch. By donating to or volunteering with such groups, you can directly contribute to the survival of the vaquita.

2. Spread Awareness

Raising awareness about the vaquita’s plight is crucial. Share information on social media, use hashtags like #SaveTheVaquita, #EndangeredSpecies, and #ActNow, and educate others about the dire situation facing these porpoises. The more people know, the greater the pressure on authorities to take action.

3. Advocate for Stronger Regulations

Urge local and international authorities to enforce stricter regulations on illegal fishing practices and increase protection for the vaquita’s habitat. Public pressure can lead to policy changes that enhance conservation efforts.

4. Watch and Share Documentaries

Documentaries like “Sea of Shadows” highlight the urgent need to save the vaquita and the ongoing efforts to combat illegal fishing. Watch the trailer for Sea of Shadows and share it with others to spread the message and inspire action.


The vaquita is a symbol of the broader struggle to protect our planet’s biodiversity. As the world’s rarest marine mammal, the vaquita’s fight for survival underscores the need for immediate and sustained conservation efforts. By supporting organisations like Sea Shepherd, spreading awareness, advocating for stronger regulations, and sharing impactful documentaries, we can all play a role in saving this precious species from extinction.

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