Animals

Facts about vaquita

15 vaquita facts

Phocoena sinus

Vaquitas are the smallest of all known cetaceans. They are very timid, and thus spotting one is extremely rare. Native to the Gulf of California in Mexico, they are listed as a Critically Endangered species, with a population of approximately 30 individuals.

Vaquita
1
The vaquita belongs to the genus Phocoena in the family Phocoenidae.
2
They are endemic to Mexico’s Gulf of California.
They are non-migratory, limited to a territory of approximately 4,000 square kilometers.
3
They are the smallest of all cetaceans.
4
Vaquita is a species of porpoise.
Unlike its cousins, adjusted to temperatures not exceeding 20 degrees Celsius, it tolerates temperature fluctuations from 14 to 36 degrees Celsius.
5
They are bulkier than other porpoises, with larger flippers and a round head with no snout.
6
They were discovered in 1958 when three vaquita skulls were washed ashore.
7
They are related to the blue whale, the world’s largest sea mammal.
8
Females are slightly larger than males.
They grow up to approximately 150 centimeters long, while males usually do not exceed 140 centimeters in length.
9
Their signature trait is a black spot around their mouths and eyes.
10
They are carnivores.
They feed on fish, crabs, and prawns, but their favorite is squid.
11
Vaquitas use sonar to communicate and navigate.
12
Although being part of cetaceans, they do not perform water acrobatics while surfacing.
They need to resurface to breathe, since lacking gills, but would rather emerge slowly, and dive quietly after taking a breath.
13
Their natural predators are sharks and killer whales.
14
They are listed as Critically Endangered by the IUCN Red List.
Within six years (1990—1996), they changed from Endangered to Critically Endangered. Their current population is estimated at 30 individuals. They tend to get caught as bycatch during commercial and illegal gillnetting.
15
In Spanish vaquita means “little cow.”
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