Get to Know the Vaquita Porpoise


June 14, 2017

By: Tessa Brant, Youth Advisory Council Member

Editor’s note: The following is from Tessa, a guest teen blogger and SeaWorld & Busch Gardens Youth Advisory Council member. The SeaWorld & Busch Gardens Youth Advisory Council was launched in 2015 and is made up of a group of energetic, passionate, hard-working, won’t-take-no-for an-answer teens! Our goal when creating the Council, was to inspire future leaders.  As it turns out, they were the ones who ended up inspiring us. 

Have you heard of the vaquita? Sadly, most people have not. The vaquita is the world’s smallest porpoise. They are only about four feet long when fully grown - that’s smaller than I am! Their coloration is actually an adaptation called countershading. By being grey on their dorsal (top) side and white on their ventral (bottom) side, vaquitas blend into the darkness of the ocean bottom when looked at from above, and blend into the lightness of the sun when looked at from below. This helps the vaquita be elusive, and as a result of this, we know very little about them. Sadly, we may never get the chance to learn more because they are so close to extinction.

 

The vaquita’s population status is a direct result of unsustainable fishing practices. Vaquitas are caught as “bycatch,” which means they are accidentally caught in fishing nets. They live exclusively in the Gulf of California in Mexico and there are estimated to be about 30 individuals left. Without vaquitas, the ocean environment in the Gulf of California will be altered, and we have no way of predicting the larger, negative effects this will have.

 

It’s up to all of us to save them.

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SeaWorld is working to raise awareness to save the vaquita through a partnership with the Association of Zoos and Aquariums’ Saving Animals From Extinction (SAFE) Program. In SeaWorld parks, only sustainable seafood is served and guests are educated about the importance of the vaquita in the ocean ecosystem.  The SeaWorld and Busch Gardens Conservation Fund supports several organizations’ efforts to save the vaquita.

 

YOU can help the vaquita too! Help us spread awareness with the hashtag #4aPorpoise on social media, make a contribution to support Vaquita conservation efforts at vaquitacpr.org, take part in the #Pied4APorpoise social media challenge, and join SeaWorld myActions to track how your everyday actions can positively impact the environment. Making sure you only eat sustainable seafood also makes a difference to the plight of the vaquita--unsustainable fishing methods are one of the largest threats to vaquitas.

 

If you want to learn more about the vaquita and more ways you can help save them, check out vaquitas.org!

Join the SeaWorld Action Team


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