Endangered species come in all shapes and sizes. From land to sea, lakes to deserts and everywhere in between. Endangered species can be found any and everywhere. And most people do not even realize how many wide and varied creatures are endangered or close to extinctions. Knowing more about these species helps to make them real in our minds and helps to inspire activism and awareness. One such endangered species is known as the Vaquita. Here are some interesting facts about this wonderful ocean creature
- The Vaquita is the world’s smallest species of porpoise. They only grow to about five feet in length and can reach approximately 120 pounds.
- The Vaquita is a notoriously shy creature. It wasn’t discovered until the 1950’s because of this fact. In fact, the only way the species was discovered at all (as a unique species that is) was from the study of Vaquita skulls examined by scientists. Now more than ever it is hard to find as there are estimates that less than 200 to 600 of these beautiful creatures are left in existence. This is only a guess however as they are ever-elusive making populations difficult to track.
- Compared to many other mammal species, Vaquitas do not live very long. They only live for somewhere around 20 years.
- The only place these beautiful creatures inhabit is the Gulf of California in Mexico and a very small region within the Gulf of California at that. Commercial fishing in this area along with pollution and other forms of habitat degradation are likely the major contributors of population decline.
- The Vaquita has been listed as endangered since 1985 but their population has been in steady decline even after this declaration. Unfortunately, just being considered endangered does not fully protect a species from population decline.
- Vaquitas look like they wear makeup! They have black lips and black circles around their eyes which make them highly distinctive from other porpoise and dolphin species. Though elusive, this unique coloration makes them easier to identify when they are spotted.
- Vaquitas tend to live in small groups. The largest groups of Vaquita seen have been between eight and ten individuals. However, Vaquita are most commonly found to live in pairs.
Now that you know these interesting facts about the rare porpoise Vaquita, you may want to get involved in conservation efforts. The Mexican government has been said to have a plan in place to protect the remaining populations, including attempts to clear their habitat of fishing nets and to change the habits of the fishing community in the area. If you wish to get involved in conservation efforts to protect the Vaquita, you can check out the WWF (World Wildlife Federation) website for ideas on how to get involved!