Phocoena sinus

The Species

Vaquita (Spanish for ‘little cow’), also known as Vaquita Marina, is one of the rarest species of marine mammals in the world. It is a native of the Gulf of California. Vaquita (scientific name: Phocoena sinus) is a porpoise: a group of aquatic mammals referred to as mereswine.

It has a conservation status of Critically Endangered.


Identified only as recently as 1958, this species has been pushed towards extinction due to illegal fishing operations in marine protected areas. It often gets unintentionally caught (bycatch) in fishing gillnets. Now there are reportedly fewer than 30 individuals surviving. Vaquita inhabits shallow lagoons, is between 1.2–1.5m long, and uses bio sonar for communication and navigation.

Role in Ecology

Porpoises and dolphins are at the higher echelons of the food chain, and contribute towards maintaining the balance of the ecosystem. Their population in the ocean has a downstream effect on the marine ecosystem and is also an indicator of ocean health.

In 2024, just 19 Vaquitas are known to be surviving. They are on their way to extinction. Watch our short film that carries their message for humanity.

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Importance of Biodiversity

Biodiversity (or Biological Diversity) is a term that describes the variety of living beings on earth, and includes diversity across species, within species, and across ecosystems. It is vital to maintaining the balance of the ecosystem. According to scientific estimates there are 8.7 million species on the planet.

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