Then she began swimming frantically and crashing into the sides of the net before finally going limp. The initial results looked promising, and those efforts may well have eventually succeeded, but a bigger threat loomed: illegal fishing for totoaba, a large fish that had also been critically endangered for two decades. 1 The vaquita, Phocoena sinus, is the world’s smallest cetacean, weighing around 55 kilos. Interesting Porpoise Facts: Porpoises are the smallest type of cetaceans. It is also one of the most endangered, with only about 250 remaining. Some fishermen in the Gulf agreed to test the gear. Interesting Facts About the Porpoise. In October 2017, VaquitaCPR scientists managed to capture two of the animals. In Scandinavia and Canada, reindeer hunting helped keep Indigenous peoples alive, from the Mesolithic and Neolithic periods all the way through modern times. It has a rather large fin on its back for its size. Norris first described Phocoena sinus (gulf porpoise) in the Journal of Mammalogy in 1958. Dorsal side of most species of porpoises is grey or brown. The alarming 1997 count spurred scientists to form the International Committee for the Recovery of the Vaquita (CIRVA in Spanish), operating with an environmental division of the Mexican government. "From the perspective of the fishermen, what they could make legally fishing versus illegally fishing for totoaba, there is enormous incentive," Read tells Mental Floss. … They're so shy that some locals say they've never seen one. Another distinctive feature of Vaquita is its ability of tolerating large annual fluctuations in temperature, which is also uncommon in porpoises. The vaquita measures about 5 feet long (the females are slightly larger than the males) and weighs no more than 100 pounds. In North America, Inuit rely on caribou for traditional food, clothing, shelter, and tools. For decades, fishermen after shrimp and finfish such as corvina and sierra unintentionally entangled and drowned vaquitas in their gillnets; these long, curtain-like nets float in the water, snagging the gills of fish and shrimp that swim into them. It can reach 4.6 to 5 feet in length and up to 120 pounds of weight. The teeth are flattened and spade-shaped unlike the conical-shaped teeth of dolphins. 2 Females grow to be around 1.5 metres long. In 2006, scientists and conservationists began developing gear that could catch fish and shrimp without harming vaquitas, including smaller nets dragged behind boats that the porpoises could avoid. When a colleague compared the skulls to those of another porpoise at the Museum of Vertebrate Zoology at Berkeley, California, they noticed differences striking enough to consider the finds a new species. Since they are elusive, not much is known about the social behaviour or the reproductive cycle of the vaquita. But we only get commission on items you buy and don’t return, so we’re only happy if you’re happy. "Nothing else makes sound in the same range, and vaquitas are acoustically very active.". Vaquita is Spanish for ‘small cow’ and apparently the word ‘porpoise’ comes from the Latin ‘porcopsicus’ meaning ‘fish pig’. Dark rings surround their eyes and mouths, which may account for their common name (vaquita means “little cow” in Spanish). Lips of vaquita are black in color. The vaquita is the smallest cetacean on earth and is a cousin of the largest animal in the world, the blue whale. Wikimedia Commons // Public Domain. Endangered Species Act in 1985 and a year later as vulnerable on the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List of Threatened Species. Color fades toward the belly, which is white in color. Vaquitas and other porpoises navigate by echolocation, producing distinctive clicks and whistles. The group subsequently built a high-tech "floating sea enclosure," which they anchored in the Gulf not too far from the beach where the first vaquita skulls were discovered. Vaquita is very shy creatures that can be rarely seen in the wild. WTF Fun Fact – Vaquita Porpoise June 20, 2020 The Vaquita porpoise is the world’s most endangered marine mammal and also the smallest porpoise. The main threat to vaquitas is death by drowning in fishing gear. The Vaquita, also known as ‘cochito’, ‘vaquita marina’ and ‘Gulf of California … The vaquita is a small cetacean that lives only in the Sea of Cortez, Mexico. What’s in a Name?– The vaquita’s name is reflective of their home range in Mexico’s Gulf of Cali… Females are larger than males. After that, Read and many other scientists say they were heartbroken, but still felt that the risk of extinction outweighed those of capture. A vaquita is a small, dark grey porpoise that reaches a maximum length of just under five feet and weighs up to 120 pounds. Female Svalbard deer begin growing their antlers in summer and keep them all year. Continue reading to learn what little we do know about these mysterious marine mammals. Conservation groups such as Greenpeace, the World Wildlife Fund, and Sea Shepherd Conservation Society patrol the Gulf for illegal fishing, but the totoaba trade continues. Check out our favorite sales below. Historically, the Eurasian reindeer and American caribou were considered to be different species, but they are actually one and the same: Rangifer tarandus. Vaquita Facts Vaquitas were scientifically discovered as a new species in 1958. Vaquita have a dark coloring around the eyes and mouth. The Vaquita Fun Facts Vaquitas live in groups composed of up to 3 animals. They're homebodies, staying within the northernmost part of the Gulf, and have the smallest range of any cetacean (the taxonomic order including whales, dolphins, and porpoises). Vaquitas grow to almost 5 feet in … In the winter, though, the pads tighten, revealing the rim of their hooves, which is used to provide traction in the slippery snow and ice. Sightings have reported small groups of 2-4, larger groups of up to 10 and even solitary vaquitas. Still, they formed an international team called VaquitaCPR to give it a try. Some of our website features may not function as a result. While the first six names all make sense in English, the last two in German mean “thunder” and “flash,” respectively. Which is likely too small a population for the vaquita to successfully reproduce and replenish its population. Reindeer comes from the Old Norse word hreinin, which means "horned animal.” Caribou comes from Canadian French and is based on the Mi'kmaq word caliboo, meaning “pawer” or "scratcher," in reference to the animal’s habit of digging through the snow for food. Although they tend to spend their time in the shallow waters of the coast line or in the open sea no more than 25km (16 mi) from shore, they are so timid that it is very lucky spot a vaquita. In 2011, they tried another count, this time relying not on sightings of vaquitas, but a more accurate measure: passive acoustic monitoring devices in the water that detect sounds made by the animals. The population has dropped drastically in the last few years. In the summer, when the ground is wet, their foot pads are softened, providing them with extra grip. These porpoises are closely related to the Southern Hemisphere species of porpoise such as the Burmeister porpoise, their closest cousin. They feast on fish, prawns and crabs but are known to have particular preference for squid. They're most closely related to porpoises in South America, but the species diverged from these relatives at least 2.5 million years ago. For further information visit or These fabulous creatures are only about 4-1/2 feet in length, weighing around 99 to 110 lbs as adults, with the male being a bit larger than the female. Like many herd animals, the calves learn to walk fast—within only 90 minutes of being born, a baby reindeer can already run. The cookie settings on this website are set to "allow cookies" to give you the best browsing experience possible. The Vaquita. At their top speed, these reindeer can run 50 mph and swim at 6.2 mph. Even their hooves are special. The population had plummeted by 92 percent since 1997. > Estimates based on acoustic research indicate that there are less than 60 vaquita remaining. The vaquita is the smallest porpoise species, and it is said to be the most endangered of all marine mammals. This narrow body of water is nestled between the second longest peninsula in the world, Baja California (translated from Spanish meaning ‘below’ or ‘south’ California) and the north west coast of mainland Mexico. Good luck deal hunting! The animals are further divided into nine to 13 subspecies, depending on who is doing the classification. The vaquita is the world’s smallest and most endangered porpoise and it is literally on its last fins. In fact, these little sea creatures were not discovered until as late as 1958 when three vaquita skulls were discovered on a beach. That’s because males lose their antlers in winter or spring, but females shed theirs in the summer. There are only ~10 left in the world. A single dried swim bladder of a totoaba can fetch as much as $50,000 in China, where they are given as gifts, eaten, or used in traditional medicine. Vaquita is Spanish for “little cow” and “vaquita marina” is Spanish for “little sea cow.” Wildscreen's Arkive project was launched in 2003 and grew to become the world's biggest encyclopaedia of life on Earth. Last year in 2015, the Mexican Government banned the use of the gillnets for two years and many conservation efforts are underway which will hopefully save these timid beauties before they are lost to history. Beginning in 2008, scientists created a catalog of these photos, adding new individuals and recording sightings of previously identified animals. Interesting Vaquita Facts: Vaquita is very small animal. These porpoises prove particularly challenging, as they tend to avoid motorized boats, travel alone or in pairs, and are barely noticeable when they surface to take slow breaths. Interesting facts about the Vaquita: > The vaquita is the most endangered marine mammal in the world. Belly is white in color. Their noses are specially adapted to warm the air they breathe before it enters their lungs and to condense water in the air, which keeps their mucous membranes moist. In 1950, University of California scientist Kenneth Norris ... 2. Diet of the Porpoise. Researchers use them with many marine animals that have distinctive markings. Strangely, you’ll almost never see these guys in depictions of Santa. Casual conversation is home to a variety of prompts. California and mainland Mexico. Reindeer now live exclusively in the northern points of the globe, but when Earth was cooler and humans were less of a threat, their territory was larger. The word Vaquita means “little cow” in Spanish and porpoise derives from the Latin meaning pig fish. They had no idea whether it would work. Individual manta rays, for example, can be identified by the spot patterns on their undersides. Here are 11 things to know about the species before it disappears forever. The likelihood of vaquita surviving, breeding, and being released was slim. Its habitat has shrunk considerably in the last few centuries. Some hope remains, though; cell samples taken by the VaquitaCPR team from the two captured vaquitas have been successfully cultured in the lab and frozen for use in future research. Log in, By continuing to use the site, you agree to the use of cookies. Adults grow up to 4.92 feet in length and weigh from 50 to 110 lbs. More information Accept. You might ask someone how they’re doing, what’s new, or if they’ve done anything interesting … 3. Photo ID catalogs serve as a tool to help track an individual, revealing its life history, social organization, movements, and habitat use. Vaquitas are likened to porpoises and often confused with dolphins, but they are smaller, have a chunkier body and have a rounded head with no snout. Vaquitas are found only near the northern end of the Gulf of California. This ability lets reindeer see things in the icy white of the Arctic that they would otherwise miss—kind of like viewing the glow of a white object under a blacklight. Upper side of the body is grey in color. ... Inspire your inbox – Sign up for daily fun facts about this day in history, updates, and special offers. They have a dark grey upper body which fades into a pale grey belly. Vaquita can be translated from Spanish to mean ‘little cow’. Make sure you guys appreciate us and don't forget to Like, Share and Subscribe. Enter your email. In 2017, CIRVA scientists desperate to find a solution recommended a controversial plan: Capture vaquitas, keep them in net pens in the Gulf, and hope they would reproduce. They are longer than the males, whose length tops out at about 1.4 metres. These monitors are perfect for gaming or streaming your favorite movies and TV shows. The vaquita (Phocoena sinus), literally "little cow", is a species of porpoise endemic to the northern end of the Gulf of California (Sea of Cortez, Vermilion Sea). Veterinarians on the team jumped into the water, realized she wasn't breathing, and attempted to resuscitate her. Things like white fur and urine are difficult, even impossible, for humans to see in the snow, but for reindeer, they show up in high contrast. Scientists also plan to use the cells to sequence the vaquita genome. "The population was already drastically depleted, and any capture or rounding up adds extra stress to the remaining animals. And in Scandinavia, reindeer is still a popular meat, sold in grocery stores in fresh, canned, and dried forms. They have striking faces with thick dark colouring around their eyes and on their lips giving the appearance they are wearing makeup. Scientists first identified the vaquita in 1958. They are recognizable by the dark rings around its eyes and mouth and they have a dark stripe that extends from the chin to the flipper. Their fur traps air, which not only helps provide them with excellent insulation, but also keeps them buoyant in water, which is important for traveling across massive rivers and lakes during migration. Dorsal fin is triangular in shape. A study showed that boats from a single fishing port in the upper Gulf accounted for the fatal bycatch of 39 to 84 vaquitas each year—an annual death sentence for 7 to 15 percent of the total population. You’ll also find deals on plant-based protein powder, Blu-ray movie sets, and webcams. Vaquita is very small animal. This incredibly rare little porpoise has been getting attention in the media due to its precarious population numbers. Before Moore wrote “A Visit from Saint Nicholas” (a.k.a. Vaquita means "little cow" in Spanish. Their pectoral (chest) and dorsal (back) fins are distinctively larger than that of other porpoises. Vaquitas only live in the northern end of Mexico’s Gulf … It can reach 4.6 to 5 feet in length and up to 120 pounds of weight. Here’s what caught our eye today, December 2. fun facts   The Vaquita was first named by scientist in 1958, and since then not much has been able to be uncovered about the species due to their mysterious nature There have only been 65 confirmed sightings of the marine mammal from 1958 to now, which is larger than the actual number of Vaquita's still in existence! Where do vaquitas live? The underside is off-white to light gray. Interesting Facts About Porpoises Information About Porpoises. Interesting Facts The Vaquita, (Phocoena sinus), was discovered and named in 1958. In 1950, University of California scientist Kenneth Norris found a bleached skull on a beach north of Punta San Felipe in Baja, California. The vaquita is also called “vaquita marina” and the Gulf of California harbor porpoise. 3 They eat small fish and squid. The team released her, but she panicked, swimming at the net again. Fun Facts for Kids Vaquita is the only porpoise, living in warm waters such as these of the Gulf of California: porpoises inhabit cooler waters, typically lower than 20 degrees Celsius.

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