Experts embark on the latest vaquita porpoise sighting expedition

By Kendal Blust
Published: Thursday, May 11, 2023 - 4:23pm
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On Wednesday, a team of experts embarked on an expedition to spot the last few vaquita porpoises living in Mexico’s Upper Gulf of California.

Representatives with Mexican environmental agencies, the conservation group Sea Shepherd and international experts will try to visually spot the few remaining vaquita and use acoustic monitoring to pinpoint where they are living.

"The results will help guide the next steps in our collaboration with the Mexican Government in protecting the Vaquita," said Sea Shepherd Chairman Pritam Singh during a press conference announcing the latest sighting expedition.

Known for cute black markings on its face, the vaquita is considered the world's most endangered marine mammal with just 8 left. It’s threatened by gillnet fishing and poaching for a large endangered fish called the totoaba. Its habitat has been designated a zero tolerance area where fishing is prohibited, but Mexico has been widely criticized for failing to enforce those protections.

Sea Shepherd works with the Mexican Navy and other officials to monitor the zero tolerance zone for ships and remove illegal nets. Singh says there was been a significant reduction in illegal fishing in the area in 2022 because of their efforts. Still, Mexico is facing international sanctions for failing to protect the vaquita.

The last vaquita sighting expedition was in October 2021. This trip runs through May 26, and a report on findings is expected to be released in early June.

Fronteras Sonora Environment