During certain times of year, you can still tell the sex of a reindeer by checking for antlers. Mexico established a Vaquita Refuge in 2005 and, after many years of urging by the members of CIRVA to permanently ban gillnets, recently prohibited all gillnet fishing in the porpoise's rangeâbut just for two years. Other articles where Vaquita is discussed: porpoise: The vaquita, or cochito (P. sinus), is listed as a critically endangered species by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN). The alarming 1997 count spurred scientists to form the International Committee for the Recovery of the Vaquita (CIRVA in Spanish), operating with an environmental division of the Mexican government. Lips of vaquita are black in color. The likelihood of vaquita surviving, breeding, and being released was slim. Vaquitas live only in the northern Gulf of California, the body of water between Baja. ... Inspire your inbox – Sign up for daily fun facts about this day in history, updates, and special offers. Averaging 150 cm (4.9 ft) (females) or 140 cm (4.6 ft) (males) in length, it is the smallest of all living cetaceans.Today, the species is on the brink of extinction. Some of our website features may not function as a result. Interesting Porpoise Facts: Porpoises are the smallest type of cetaceans. Like many herd animals, the calves learn to walk fastâwithin only 90 minutes of being born, a baby reindeer can already run. Since reindeer shed their antlers at different points of the year based on their sex and age, we know that Santaâs reindeer probably aren't older males, because older male reindeer lose their antlers in December and Christmas reindeer are always depicted with their antlers. "From the perspective of the fishermen, what they could make legally fishing versus illegally fishing for totoaba, there is enormous incentive," Read tells Mental Floss. They are longer than the males, whose length tops out at about 1.4 metres. The porpoise has a conspicuous black ring around each eye. It is also one of the most endangered, with only about 250 remaining. Although they tend to spend their time in the shallow waters of the coast line or in the open sea no more than 25km (16 mi) from shore, they are so timid that it is very lucky spot a vaquita. Moore introduced the world to Dasher, Dancer, Prancer, Vixen, Comet, Cupid, Dunder and Blixem (the last two of which were later changed from Dutch to German, becoming Donner and Blitzen). Vaquita is Spanish for ‘small cow’ and apparently the word ‘porpoise’ comes from the Latin ‘porcopsicus’ meaning ‘fish pig’. Estimates suggest that vaquitas may become extinct by 2018. What remains of their populations only lives in the northernmost region of the gulf. The animals are further divided into nine to 13 subspecies, depending on who is doing the classification. They're the smallest of all porpoises, with chunky bodies and rounded heads. Things like white fur and urine are difficult, even impossible, for humans to see in the snow, but for reindeer, they show up in high contrast. Their pectoral (chest) and dorsal (back) fins are distinctively larger than that of other porpoises. Vaquita is very shy creatures that can be rarely seen in the wild. With the help of over 7,000 of the world’s best wildlife filmmakers and photographers, conservationists and scientists, Arkive.org featured multi-media fact-files for more than 16,000 endangered species. Researchers use them with many marine animals that have distinctive markings. At their top speed, these reindeer can run 50 mph and swim at 6.2 mph. Vaquitas, like their harbour porpoise cousins, make loud noises that sound a bit like pig snorts, and porpoises used to be commonly known as ‘puffing pigs’. Mexico also provided compensation equivalent to millions of dollars to local people in the fishing industry left high and dry by the ban. Here are 11 things to know about the species before it disappears forever. Female vaquitas up to 5ft (1.52m) are larger than males vaquitas that have been measured only up to 4.6ft (1.40m). Genetic and morphological data suggest that vaquitas are most closely related to porpoises in South America. Belly is white in color. That means Santaâs sled either has to be pulled by young reindeer, constantly replaced as they start to age, or Santaâs reindeer are female. They estimated the vaquita population at 245. Relatively little is known about it, simply because individuals are incredibly hard to find to conduct research. The underside is off-white to light gray. Vaquita have a dark coloring around the eyes and mouth. Their fur traps air, which not only helps provide them with excellent insulation, but also keeps them buoyant in water, which is important for traveling across massive rivers and lakes during migration. Britain's only herd of free-ranging reindeer live in Scotlandâs Cairngorms National Park. They're so shy that some locals say they've never seen one. Interesting Facts The Vaquita, (Phocoena sinus), was discovered and named in 1958. Female Svalbard deer begin growing their antlers in summer and keep them all year. This incredibly rare little porpoise has been getting attention in the media due to its precarious population numbers. What’s in a Name?– The vaquita’s name is reflective of their home range in Mexico’s Gulf of Cali… Porpoise has rounded body and blunt jaw. Clement C. Mooreâs poem, "A Visit from Saint Nicholas,â introduced the world to Santaâs reindeer and describes them as "tiny." It also has a black line around its lips, which gives the appearance of a smile. In 1997, scientists from the U.S. and Mexico spent days aboard a 170-foot ship motoring in a grid pattern over water up to 165 feet deep, trying to spot and count vaquitas. Adults grow up to 4.92 feet in length and weigh from 50 to 110 lbs. Interesting Facts About Porpoises Information About Porpoises. Color fades toward the belly, which is white in color. "The devices look for a particular frequency," Read explains. They're homebodies, staying within the northernmost part of the Gulf, and have the smallest range of any cetacean (the taxonomic order including whales, dolphins, and porpoises). The initial results looked promising, and those efforts may well have eventually succeeded, but a bigger threat loomed: illegal fishing for totoaba, a large fish that had also been critically endangered for two decades. But we only get commission on items you buy and donât return, so weâre only happy if youâre happy. Vaquitas and other porpoises navigate by echolocation, producing distinctive clicks and whistles. The vaquita is the smallest cetacean on earth and is a cousin of the largest animal in the world, the blue whale. A few populations of North American reindeer travel up to 3100 miles per year, covering around 23 miles per day. The upper side of the body is medium to dark gray. In 2005, the Mexican Ministry of Environment declared a Vaquita Refuge that contains within its borders approximately 80% of all verified vaquita sighting positions in order to protect these critically endangered porpoises. In 2011, they tried another count, this time relying not on sightings of vaquitas, but a more accurate measure: passive acoustic monitoring devices in the water that detect sounds made by the animals. In 1950, University of California scientist Kenneth Norris ... 2. In 2016, it was estimated that there were only 30 of these porpoises left in existence. Vaquitas are found only near the northern end of the Gulf of California. The vaquita is the rarest marine mammal in the world, and critically endangered, according to the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN). Living in relatively shallow, cloudy water, they feed on a variety of fish, squid, and crustaceans. Most species are 5 to 8 feet long and weigh between 100 and 200 pounds. The last caribou in the contiguous United States was removed to a Canadian conservation breeding program in 2019. After that, Read and many other scientists say they were heartbroken, but still felt that the risk of extinction outweighed those of capture. The IUCN ran models using fisheries data, the 1997 population number, and other counts, and estimated that, in the early 20th century, the vaquita population may have been 5000. Another CIRVA survey in 2015 combined visual and passive acoustic data collected simultaneously and made a dismal finding: Only 59 vaquita remained. "Porpoises generally, like most cetaceans, do not fare well in captivity," Will McCallum of Greenpeace tells Mental Floss. "The population was already drastically depleted, and any capture or rounding up adds extra stress to the remaining animals. Casual conversation is home to a variety of prompts. California and mainland Mexico. Humans can see light in a range of wavelengths, from about 700 nanometers (in the red spectrum) to 400 nanometers (in the violet spectrum). Interesting Facts About the Porpoise. WTF Fun Fact – Vaquita Porpoise June 20, 2020 The Vaquita porpoise is the world’s most endangered marine mammal and also the smallest porpoise. "We should have been perfectly able to save the vaquita,â McCallum says. Illegal fishing for an exotic fish, the totoaba is the biggest threat to the Vaquita. Vaquita Facts Vaquitas were scientifically discovered as a new species in 1958. Amazing Facts About the Saola. They are recognizable by the dark rings around its eyes and mouth and they have a dark stripe that extends from the chin to the flipper. Interesting facts about the Vaquita: > The vaquita is the most endangered marine mammal in the world. Scientists have a hard time making precise estimates of the number of rare and cryptic (hard to find) species such as the vaquita. fun facts The Vaquita was first named by scientist in 1958, and since then not much has been able to be uncovered about the species due to their mysterious nature There have only been 65 confirmed sightings of the marine mammal from 1958 to now, which is larger than the actual number of Vaquita's still in existence! For the next four years, they acoustically monitored Gulf watersâand were dismayed to see the vaquita population drop by 34 percent per year. There are only ~10 left in the world. People fishing illegally for totoaba continue to use gillnets, outweighing any benefit the safer, vaquita-proof nets might have had. Continue reading to learn what little we do know about these mysterious marine mammals. Reindeer can see light to 320 nanometers, in the ultraviolet (UV) range. Veterinarians on the team jumped into the water, realized she wasn't breathing, and attempted to resuscitate her. The vaquita is the most endangered marine mammal in the world. These monitors are perfect for gaming or streaming your favorite movies and TV shows. Mental Floss has affiliate relationships with certain retailers, including Amazon, and may receive a small percentage of any sale. The population has dropped drastically in the last few years. The vaquita (Phocoena sinus), literally "little cow", is a species of porpoise endemic to the northern end of the Gulf of California (Sea of Cortez, Vermilion Sea). The population had plummeted by 92 percent since 1997. Some vaquitas have individually distinctive nicks and notches on their dorsal fins, which makes it possible to identify specific individuals from high-quality photographs. In North America, Inuit rely on caribou for traditional food, clothing, shelter, and tools. Diet of the Porpoise. The word Vaquita means “little cow” in Spanish and porpoise derives from the Latin meaning pig fish. They estimated the total population was 567, which probably already reflected a significant decline due to intense fishing activity and less water emptying into the Gulf from the Colorado River, which was siphoned upstream by farms and towns. Upper side of the body is grey in color. The gillnets used frequently entangle and drown vaquitas. Beyond their sled-pulling capabilities and discrimination against those with red noses, what do you really know about reindeer? In October 2017, VaquitaCPR scientists managed to capture two of the animals. … A year later, Norris's colleagues found two more. Their noses are specially adapted to warm the air they breathe before it enters their lungs and to condense water in the air, which keeps their mucous membranes moist. Vaquitas can communicate with each other and navigate using sonar. They feast on fish, prawns and crabs but are known to have particular preference for squid. Endangered Species Act in 1985 and a year later as vulnerable on the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List of Threatened Species. Then she began swimming frantically and crashing into the sides of the net before finally going limp. Wikimedia Commons // Public Domain. Good luck deal hunting! The word vaquita means "small cow" in Spanish. > Estimates based on acoustic research indicate that there are less than 60 vaquita remaining. Its habitat has shrunk considerably in the last few centuries. Before Moore wrote âA Visit from Saint Nicholasâ (a.k.a. Vaquita is spanish for “little cow,” it is also known as the Cochito and Vaquita marina. As for how Santa's nine reindeer manage to fly while pulling a sled carrying presents for every child in the whole world, science still hasnât worked that out. The fishing industry, pollution and habitat destruction from the dam built in the Colorado River threaten its survival. Scientists first identified the vaquita in 1958. 11 Facts About the Vaquita, The World's Most Endangered Porpoise. Last year in 2015, the Mexican Government banned the use of the gillnets for two years and many conservation efforts are underway which will hopefully save these timid beauties before they are lost to history. Vaquita is Spanish for “little cow” and “vaquita marina” is Spanish for “little sea cow.” The vaquita has a large dark ring around its eyes and dark patches on its lips that form a thin line from the mouth to the … Conservation groups such as Greenpeace, the World Wildlife Fund, and Sea Shepherd Conservation Society patrol the Gulf for illegal fishing, but the totoaba trade continues. Distribution map. Vaquitas are likened to porpoises and often confused with dolphins, but they are smaller, have a chunkier body and have a rounded head with no snout. The Vaquita Fun Facts Vaquitas live in groups composed of up to 3 animals. Today on Amazon, upgrade your desktop setup with deep discounts on HD monitors from Samsung. Fun Facts for Kids Vaquita is the only porpoise, living in warm waters such as these of the Gulf of California: porpoises inhabit cooler waters, typically lower than 20 degrees Celsius. Vaquita is very small animal. "Nothing else makes sound in the same range, and vaquitas are acoustically very active.". In 1950, University of California scientist Kenneth Norris found a bleached skull on a beach north of Punta San Felipe in Baja, California. Even their hooves are special. By 2020, ecologists had estimated that no more than 18 adults… Females are larger than males. In 2017, CIRVA scientists desperate to find a solution recommended a controversial plan: Capture vaquitas, keep them in net pens in the Gulf, and hope they would reproduce. Interesting Vaquita Facts: Vaquita is very small animal. The porpoise has a triang… Dorsal fin is triangular in shape. "We know where they are and what needed to happen to save them in the wild.". For decades, fishermen after shrimp and finfish such as corvina and sierra unintentionally entangled and drowned vaquitas in their gillnets; these long, curtain-like nets float in the water, snagging the gills of fish and shrimp that swim into them. The Vaquita, also known as ‘cochito’, ‘vaquita marina’ and ‘Gulf of California … Life span: Unknown (estimated up to 21 years), Size: Length- female 5ft (1.5m) and males 4.6ft (1.4m), Range: Only in the nothern most area of the Gulf of California. Learn more about what makes them interesting below. We wish you Good Health. Almost all of the animalâs organs are edible and many are crucial ingredients of traditional dishes in the area. Strangely, youâll almost never see these guys in depictions of Santa. âThe Night Before Christmasâ) in 1823, no one thought about reindeer in conjunction with Santa Claus. Unlike dolphins that will follow boats, vaquitas are shy, private creatures and as such very little is known about them. In Scandinavia and Canada, reindeer hunting helped keep Indigenous peoples alive, from the Mesolithic and Neolithic periods all the way through modern times. They have striking faces with thick dark colouring around their eyes and on their lips giving the appearance they are wearing makeup. In the winter, though, the pads tighten, revealing the rim of their hooves, which is used to provide traction in the slippery snow and ice. The group subsequently built a high-tech "floating sea enclosure," which they anchored in the Gulf not too far from the beach where the first vaquita skulls were discovered. Since they are elusive, not much is known about the social behaviour or the reproductive cycle of the vaquita. Vaquitas, like their harbour porpoise cousins, make loud noises that sound a bit like pig snorts, and porpoises used to be commonly known as ‘puffing pigs’. ", Efforts continue to enforce the gillnet ban and remove gillnets in the reserve, but they may be too little, too late. Finally, the vaquita only lives in a tiny region of the Gulf of California. They're most closely related to porpoises in South America, but the species diverged from these relatives at least 2.5 million years ago. The vaquita is a small cetacean that lives only in the Sea of Cortez, Mexico. Enter your email. The team released her, but she panicked, swimming at the net again. In most deer species, only the male grows antlers, but thatâs not true for most reindeer. Three hours later, they declared the animal dead, likely due to cardiac arrest. Live-action films usually use full-sized reindeer and animations usually draw the creatures as a cross between a white-tailed deer and a reindeer. These porpoises are closely related to the Southern Hemisphere species of porpoise such as the Burmeister porpoise, their closest cousin. Make sure you guys appreciate us and don't forget to Like, Share and Subscribe. The vaquita is also called “vaquita marina” and the Gulf of California harbor porpoise. The small porpoise is extremely rare as well as endangered. Vaquita are often caught and drowned in gillnets used by illegal fishing operations in marine protected areas within Mexico's Gulf of California. A study showed that boats from a single fishing port in the upper Gulf accounted for the fatal bycatch of 39 to 84 vaquitas each yearâan annual death sentence for 7 to 15 percent of the total population. Beginning in 2008, scientists created a catalog of these photos, adding new individuals and recording sightings of previously identified animals. 2 Females grow to be around 1.5 metres long. Which is likely too small a population for the vaquita to successfully reproduce and replenish its population. The vaquita measures about 5 feet long (the females are slightly larger than the males) and weighs no more than 100 pounds. Sadly, the vaquita is classified as critically endangered with less than 100 thought to survive. 3 They eat small fish and squid. For further information visit www.aboutcookies.org or www.allaboutcookies.org. Still, they formed an international team called VaquitaCPR to give it a try. The Vaquita, also known as ‘cochito’, ‘vaquita marina’ and ‘Gulf of California harbour porpoise’, exists in only one place in the world, the Gulf of California. It can reach 4.6 to 5 feet in length and up to 120 pounds of weight. You might ask someone how they’re doing, what’s new, or if they’ve done anything interesting … In fact, reindeer used to range as far south as Nevada, Tennessee, and Spain during the Pleistocene area. Vaquita can be translated from Spanish to mean ‘little cow’. Wildscreen's Arkive project was launched in 2003 and grew to become the world's biggest encyclopaedia of life on Earth. Vaquita means "little cow" in Spanish. These fabulous creatures are only about 4-1/2 feet in length, weighing around 99 to 110 lbs as adults, with the male being a bit larger than the female. There are two major groups of reindeer, the tundra and the woodland, which are divided according to the type of habitat the animal lives in, not their global location. No vaquita had ever been kept in captivity, no one knew how the animals would respond, and the effort would only pay off in the unlikely event that gillnet fishing in the Gulf completely stopped. They are the rarest sea mammal in existence. 1 The vaquita, Phocoena sinus, is the world’s smallest cetacean, weighing around 55 kilos. Most members of the species are smaller. That may prove useful when landing on roofs. In 2006, scientists and conservationists began developing gear that could catch fish and shrimp without harming vaquitas, including smaller nets dragged behind boats that the porpoises could avoid. Check out our favorite sales below. But new research suggests that the number has been cut down by more than a thirdâwith less than 20 vaquitas left on Earth. The main threat to vaquitas is death by drowning in fishing gear. Life in the tundra is hard, but reindeer have it easy-ish thanks to their amazing evolutionary enhancements. Photo ID catalogs serve as a tool to help track an individual, revealing its life history, social organization, movements, and habitat use. Dorsal side of most species of porpoises is grey or brown. The vaquita is the world’s smallest and most endangered porpoise and it is literally on its last fins. The vaquita’s habitat is protected by a Biosphere Reserve, created in 1993, and totoaba fishing has been banned since 1975. Eyes of vaquita are encircled with black rings. Reindeer comes from the Old Norse word hreinin, which means "horned animal.â Caribou comes from Canadian French and is based on the Mi'kmaq word caliboo, meaning âpawerâ or "scratcher," in reference to the animalâs habit of digging through the snow for food. The teeth are flattened and spade-shaped unlike the conical-shaped teeth of dolphins. In fact, these little sea creatures were not discovered until as late as 1958 when three vaquita skulls were discovered on a beach. Reindeer now live exclusively in the northern points of the globe, but when Earth was cooler and humans were less of a threat, their territory was larger. The black market money is just too good, says Andy Read, a marine biologist at Duke University and member of CIRVA. Individual manta rays, for example, can be identified by the spot patterns on their undersides.