Vaquitas are a truly unique species adapted to a curious marine habitat
All porpoises live in highly productive waters, which are typically found in northern areas. Vaquitas (Phocoena sinus) have made their home in the northern Gulf of California thousands of miles from their nearest relative in Peru. Despite being next to one of the hottest deserts in the world, the waters where vaquitas live are not clear, tropical waters but waters clouded with life because of the strong currents and nutrients stirred from the muddy bottom deposited by thousands of years of runoff from the Colorado River. Vaquitas sport an extra tall dorsal fin and long flippers that likely help them dissipate the heat.
The vaquita is dark gray to light gray to white and is counter-shaded with a dark-gray dorsal and white ventral. It has a distinct dark ring around each eye, dark gray lipstick-like markings and a dark stripe extending from the chin to the flippers. It has a relatively taller and more falcate (curved-back) dorsal fin than other porpoise species.
Vaquita Population Decline
Between 1997 and 2019, gillnets killed hundreds of vaquitas. Their estimated population dropped from approximately 600 to fewer than 20 animals.