The vaquita is the world’s most endangered marine mammal, on the brink of extinction within our lifetime.  These porpoises are found only in Mexico’s Sea of Cortez & at last estimate, 9 remain.  That's not a typo, there are only NINE of these magnificent creatures left in our world.  The vaquita population has dramatically declined in recent years due to illegal fishing & trafficking of yet another vulnerable species, the totoaba fish.  These small porpoises (& other species) become entangled as bycatch in the vast mesh gillnets & ultimately drown.

A few years back the Mexican government did establish a loosely regulated marine zone in an attempt to protect the vaquita from fishing, but it was recently announced that it will be rolling back some regulations & reopening access to this refuge again.  Conservationists believe this move could lead to the extinction of the vaquita.



Become educated about this complicated issue so you can further bring awareness to it. 

Watch the documentary Sea of Shadows (2019) for more in-depth information.  Streaming available on Hulu & Amazon Prime, or watch for free on Nat Geo:

Keep up-to-date on recent developments:


There are several wonderful organizations striving to make a difference for these animals.

Since 2015, Sea Shepherd has brought awareness to the plight of the vaquita & has been working with Mexican authorities to deter poaching & remove the illegal gillnets that immediately threaten them.  To-date they have removed over 1,200 pieces of illegal fishing gear from the vaquita refuge, saving countless lives & giving this species a chance at survival.

(Our Prints with Purpose charitable initiative donates 50% of the proceeds to Sea Shepherd Conservation Society).

Earth League International has done extensive undercover investigative work into the root cause of the problem & associated totoaba wildlife trafficking.  They share their intelligence with Mexican authorities which has supported recent arrests, hopefully disrupting the illegal international supply chain.

Vaquita CPR’s ongoing acoustic monitoring efforts allow the vaquitas to be heard & their location pinpointed, further allowing protection & net-pulling efforts where the animals are known to be.

The Center for Biological Diversity is a nonprofit membership organization known for its work protecting endangered species through legal action, scientific petitions, & activism.  In August 2021 they petitioned the Commission on Environmental Cooperation to investigate Mexico’s vaquita enforcement failures, citing continued illegal fishing by hundreds of boats within the animals’ remaining habitat. Under the USMCA {free trade agreement}, the United States, Mexico and Canada committed that “no Party shall fail to effectively enforce its environmental laws.”


We will continue to update this article as there are any further developments.

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