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Vaquita Porpoise

2023 AUG 11

Preliminary   > Environment and Ecology   >   Biodiversity   >   Species in news

Why in news?

  • The International Whaling Commission (IWC) has issued its first ‘extinction alert’ on the Vaquita Porpoise.

About Vaquita Porpoise:

  • Vaquita Porpoise is the world’s smallest cetacean. It is also known as the “panda of the sea” for the distinctive black circles around its eyes, along with a proportionally large dorsal fin.
  • The vaquita is unique among the porpoises as it is the only species of that family found in warm waters.
  • A dark ring around the eyes is its most striking feature, along with a proportionally large dorsal fin.
  • It is only found in the northern-most part of the Gulf of California, Mexico.
  • IUCN Status: Critically Endangered
  • CITES: Appendix I

Declining population:

  • The vaquita population has been declining continuously for decades due to bycatch in gillnet set to catch shrimp and fish including totoaba.
  • Its numbers have fallen from a population of approximately 570 in 1997 to around 10 animals in 2018.

What are Porpoises?

  • Porpoises are among the smallest members of the cetacean family (whales, porpoises and dolphins).
  • They are only distant relatives of dolphins (they last had a common ancestor roughly 15 million years ago).
  • There are only seven species of porpoise; the most popular being the widely distributed harbour porpoise.


With reference to ‘Vaquita Porpoise’, consider the following statements:

1. They are generally found in warm waters

2. They are widely populated in Indian Ocean

3. They are the world’s smallest cetacean

Which of the statements given above is/are correct?

(a) 1 and 3 only

(b) 2 and 3 only

(c) 1 and 2 only

(d) 1,2 and 3