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The Vaquita (Phocoena sinus)

A lot of work has been happening over the past few decades to protect the world's most endangered marine mammal. In fact, recently in the news, the Sea Shepard program is working to get rid of 'ghost nets' to try to save the few vaquitas that remain. This is why it is essential to learn more about it and to bring more attention to the vaquita.

Physical Description and Behavior

The vaquita is the smallest living species of cetacean, a group that includes porpoises, whales, and dolphins. They are a little less than 5 feet long on average, with female vaquita being a few inches longer than the males. They are mostly gray with their back being a darker gray, having distinctive black marks around their lips and eyes.

Fun Fact: While not much is known about the mating structure of these mammals, it is believed that they are polygynous, and males compete for the chance to mate with females. Also, males have very large testicles, accounting for about 3% of their body mass.

They are considered generalists when it comes to their eating habits. They mainly feed on bony fish and squid but are not that picky about their food when they buy it.

Habitat and Location

The vaquita is extremely endangered, as there are believed to only be as few as 15 of them in the wild. Their numbers are on a steep decline as well, reducing in number every year. While there are several threats, the biggest threat to the vaquita is fishing nets, or ghost nets, that are disposed of by fisheries. This is why many organizations are working to find and remove all abandoned nets in the area.

They live in a very small area off the coast of San Felipe in Baja California, Mexico. They inhabit shallow murky lagoons where there are strong tidal mixing and a lot of food available to consume.

Learn more about the Vaquita and the race to save them by watching the video below:

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