Vaquita – Last Chance for the Desert Porpoise

New Vaquita Population Estimate – 250 Animals

Based on data collected on Expedition Vaquita, scientists provide a new population estimate.

New Vaquita Population Estimate - 250 Animals
June 9th, 2010 by

Mexico’s Ministry of Environment and Natural Resources (SEMERNAT) have announced the results from the Expedition Vaquita research cruise in 2008.

Researchers from NOAA Fisheries Southwest Fisheries Science Center in La Jolla California, and Insitituto Nacional de Ecologia in Mexico estimate the current population to be 250 animals.

The aim of Expedition Vaquita was to provide a more concise abundance estimate for the population. For more information about the scientific methods behind it, watch this video:

Watch more videos from the documentary – “Vaquita – The Search for the Desert Porpoise”.

The following is the excerpt from SEMERNAT:

The Secretariat of Environment and Natural Resources (Semarnat), through its representative before the International Whaling Commission, Lorenzo Rojas, presented the results of the Vaquita Acoustic Monitoring Cruise in the Upper Gulf California, which took place from September to November of 2008, to the scientific committee of the IWC.

The investigation indicates that the population of the vaquita is of approximately 250 individuals, when in 2007 the population estimate was of 150 animals, which does not mean that the population has increased from one year to the next, but that the 2008 estimate was done with a more precise method, designed especially to assess its abundance.

The Semarnat restates that to avoid the extinction of the species it is essential to eliminate the incidental mortality in its totality, as it has been recommended by specialized scientific organizations, including the IWC.

In this sense, Semarnat implements since the end of 2007, the Vaquita Conservation Action Program (PACE-Vaquita), that has managed to diminish significantly the number of fishing nets in the Upper Gulf of California. The final goal of PACE-Vaquita is to eliminate the incidental mortality of this species by means of offering socio-economic alternatives and alternative fishing gear, friendly to the vaquita, to the fishermen communities in the Upper Gulf of California.

The Monitoring was responsibility of researchers from the National Institute of Ecology, and the Southwest Fisheries Science Center of the United States (SWFSC-NOAA), who combined visual and acoustic techniques, as well as analytical methods of recent development to estimate the abundance of this specie of marine mammal, the most endangered in the world and endemic of this area.

About Chris Johnson

Chris Johnson has written 34 post in this blog.

A filmmaker, photographer and digital producer based in Melbourne Australia.

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18 Jun 2010 by Sue

Wow. Thanks for this amazing website! What can we do to help save the vaquita?

22 Oct 2010 by branchenbuch

Hello. Great job. I did not expect this on a Wednesday. This is a great story. Thanks!

13 Dec 2010 by Alexandre Roux


I saw the recovery plan’s page
I’d like to know if the fishers changed their behaviour and agreed with new kind of fishing?
Does the problem being a part of the past?


14 Dec 2010 by Catalina

Hello Alexandre,
Some fishermen are currently working with scientists and the Mexican Government in testing new fishing technologies and techniques that could eventually replace gill nets. For now, gill nets are still being used but fishermen have agreed to stay away from the Vaquita Refuge (where most sightings have occurred); some have opted to retire from fishing to establish new businesses.
It will take some time to eliminate gill nets, but fishermen are working with scientists, NGOs and government groups in finding a solution. They understand the importance of taking care of the environment and its resources. There is still a lot to be done and this will be a long process, but it is encouraging to see all these groups working together and supporting one another.
Thanks for your question and I hope this helps.


5 Sep 2011 by Joe

Hey Guys, wondering why we’re still touting the number of vaquitas at 250…that’s a number from a few years ago. We’re probably lower than that now because it doesn’t appear that there’s been any significant progress in controlling the threat of gillnets…or has there been?

15 Sep 2011 by Catalina

Hi Joe,
You are right, that number is a few years old, and no new estimate has been published in order for us to know how much this number has changed. The PACE-vaquita lists the # of vaquitas deaths from 2003-2007, but I haven’t seen a list for 2007-2011.
The government has implemented annual buyout, rentout and gear switch programs, however analyses of how effective these have been have not been completed/published. This information is crucial if we wish to know how the species is doing.
For now, the vaquita refuge is the only area where gillnets are completely banned. Whether or not that has a significant effect on the vaquita population, we will have to wait for the results.


20 Dec 2011 by Bielizna

Howdy! I know this is kind of off-topic but I needed to ask. Does operating a well-established website such as yours require a lot of work? I am completely new to blogging but I do write in my diary everyday. I’d like to start a blog so I will be able to share my personal experience and thoughts online. Please let me know if you have any recommendations or tips for brand new aspiring blog owners. Thankyou!

14 Feb 2012 by Aldrich

I’m doing a little something of the identical interest and will also be taking be aware with this .Thanks a lot.

7 Jan 2013 by Laura

Is there anything we can do to expand the gill net free sanctuary area?


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