On The Brink
THE VANISHING VAQUITA
The vaquita, Phocoena sinus, is the world’s smallest cetacean, weighing around 55 kilos.
Females grow to be around 1.5 metres long. They are longer than the males, whose length tops out at about 1.4 metres.
They eat small fish and squid.
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.
Their dorsal surface is dark grey, their sides pale grey, and their underside is white with light grey markings. Newborn calves are darker.
Vaquita have proportionally large dorsal fins, possibly as an adaptation to warmer water to allow heat to dissipate.
Like other porpoises, vaquitas use sonar to communicate and navigate.
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.
Researchers estimate that vaquita live for around 20 years.