On The Brink

THE VAN­ISH­ING VAQUITA

Scuba Diver Australasia - - Contents -

1

The vaquita, Pho­coena si­nus, is the world’s small­est cetacean, weigh­ing around 55 ki­los.

2

Fe­males grow to be around 1.5 me­tres long. They are longer than the males, whose length tops out at about 1.4 me­tres.

3

They eat small fish and squid.

4

They have unique fa­cial mark­ings with a black ring around each eye and curved, black lips that make them look as if they are smil­ing.

5

Their dor­sal sur­face is dark grey, their sides pale grey, and their un­der­side is white with light grey mark­ings. New­born calves are darker.

6

Vaquita have pro­por­tion­ally large dor­sal fins, pos­si­bly as an adap­ta­tion to warmer wa­ter to al­low heat to dis­si­pate.

7

Like other por­poises, vaquitas use sonar to com­mu­ni­cate and nav­i­gate.

8

Vaquitas are very rarely seen. When they are spot­ted, they are ei­ther alone or in small groups of two or three. They are thus thought to be quite soli­tary an­i­mals.

9

Re­searchers es­ti­mate that vaquita live for around 20 years.

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