VAQUITA (Syllabus: GS Paper 3 – Env and Eco)

News-CRUX-10     8th July 2024        
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Context: The world's most endangered marine mammal, the vaquita, is teetering on the edge of extinction.


  • About: It is the world's rarest marine mammal, is on the edge of extinction.
  • Scientific Name: Phocoena sinus
  • Habitat: They inhabit the northern part of the Gulf of California, preferring shallow waters up to

    50 meters deep.

  • Population: 10 individuals
  • Lifespan: 21 Years
  • Features:

o Size and Weight: Vaquitas are 4 to 5 feet long and weigh between 65 to 120 pounds, making them the smallest cetaceans.

o Physical Characteristics: They have chunky bodies, rounded heads without snouts, and are mostly dark gray with lighter undersides and distinct black facial patches.

o Unique Dorsal Fin: Their dorsal fins are taller and wider compared to other porpoises, contributing to their distinctive appearance.

  • Conservation Status: Critically Endangered
  • Threats: The only known threat to the vaquita is getting caught in fishing gear, especially gillnets.

Conservation Efforts

  • Establishment of CIRVA: In 1996, Mexico founded the International Committee for the Recovery of the Vaquita (CIRVA).
  • CIRVA's mandate is to develop and oversee a comprehensive vaquita recovery plan.