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1-Year Anniversary!

Spectacled Porpoise (Phocoena dioptrica)

…a rare species of porpoise that occurs in southern Atlantic, Indian and Pacific waters, and it is suggested that it has a circumpolar distribution. Due to its rarity much is unknown about P. dioptrica’s biology. They are typically seen by themselves and are thought to be solitary, although family groups have been spotted on several occasions. They are also very shy and will swim away if approached by boats and will surface inconspicuously. P. dioptrica’s eating habits are largely unknown, but based on tooth structure and stomach contents it is thought that they feed on algae, squid, crustaceans and fish. Their rarity has made it something of a spectacle to see one…

Classification:

Animalia-Chordata-Mammalia-Cetacea-Odontoceti-Phocoenidae-Phocoena-P. dioptrica

Images: Laura Morse and royanddarla.com

Anomalously white harbour porpoise (Phocoena phocoena) photographed in the Moray Firth, Scotland on 24 August 2012. The head, back, sides and pectoral fins appear uniformly pinkish white against a contrastingly darker grey/black dorsal fin.

At an estimated body length of 1.5 m, the present animal had evidently survived to adulthood, in spite of its condition, confirming the potential longevity of such hypo-pigmented individuals in the wild. Further recaptures of this naturally-marked animal may provide valuable information on the site fidelity and long-term spatial movements of these notoriously difficult to study cetaceans.

Vaquita, the Mexican porpoise, nears extinction

An international team of scientists says that the critically endangered vaquita, a species of porpoise (Phocoena sinus) found only in Mexico’s Gulf of California, is fast approaching extinction and that all gillnet fishing in the animal’s range must be banned. The team, which was established by the government of Mexico, warns that the number of porpoises has been cut in half since 2012, when about 200 remained. Now, a mere 97 are believed to survive. Of these, 25 are thought to be reproductively mature females.

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The Vanishing Vaquita

{New Blog Post} The Vanishing Vaquita

The worlds smallest cetacean (reaching lengths of only 4-5 ft.) and limited to a small home range in Baja, California is in dire straits. The vaquita (Phocoena sinus) is a notoriously shy and difficult to study therefore underwater acoustic technology has been utilised by the International Committee for the Recovery of the Vaquita to monitor their latest numbers. This study revealed their numbers…

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Vaquita

(Phocoena sinus

the vaquita is a small porpoise that can be found in the northern parts of the gulf of California  they are fairly rare with a known 100-300 individuals alive today. they were believed to gone extinct in 2006 and are though to be the most endangered cetacean in the world and is listed as critically endangered by the IUCN. they are small animals growing up to 4 ft and weighing around 120 lb. they can be identified by their small size, black eye rings and lip patches. they can only be found in the Gulf of California in shallow lagoons and shoreline areas and are rarely seen in water deeper than 50 meters. they live in very small pods of around 1-3 individuals but groups of  8-10 have been seen. they are the product of alot of conservation projects as they are evolutionary distinct and critically endangered.

Phylogeny

Animalia-Chordata-Mammalia-Cetacea-Odontoceti-Phocoenidae-Phoconea

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GOOD NEWS: Mexico approves measure to save world’s rarest dolphin

The government of Mexico has taken a decisive step to save the vaquita - a porpoise threatened by extinction - and to promote sustainable fisheries in the upper Gulf of California for the benefit of fishers and their families, says WWF-Mexico.

The new regulation establishes shrimping standards in Mexico and defines the fishing gears permitted in different zones of the country. 

The new regulation, called an official norm, comes after over 38,000 people from 127 countries signed WWF’s petition to Mexico President Enrique Peña Nieto requesting measures to save the vaquita and allow fishers to continue to earn a living through sustainable fishing. 

“With this norm, drift gillnets - one of the nets used in artisanal shrimping operations in which vaquitas die incidentally - will be gradually substituted, during a three year period, for selective fishing gears that does not kill this porpoise, but that allow fishers to keep earning their livelihoods. The effective application of the norm requires the participation and commitment of local fishermen. The optimal use of the net requires the development of particular skills; therefore, the support of the government and other organizations through training and temporary compensation programs will be essential along the fisher´s learning curve,” said Omar Vidal, WWF-Mexico’s Director General.

It represents a major opportunity to promote sustainable fisheries in the region and to protect this Mexican porpoise. WWF acknowledges the commitment of the Mexican government to save the vaquita from extinction”, added Vidal.


It is estimated that less than 200 vaquitas currently survive. Its main threat is incidental entanglement and drowning in drift gillnets used to catch shrimp, sharks, rays and other fish. Vaquitas also continues to die trapped in gillnets used in the illegal fishing of totoaba, a fish which is also endangered.

  • Photo Flip Nicklin and Thomas A. Jefferson
  • via WWF GLOBAL
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BOTTLENOSE DOLPHINS ATTACK ON  HARBOUR PORPOISE

apparently, bottlenose dolphins aren’t so cute and sympathetic as people mistakenly believe.

On 17 February,  two dead harbour porpoises appeared dead at St Cyrus beach in Aberdeenshire, Scotland. The skin of both porpoises exhibited extensive tooth raking from (seemingly by several) bottlenose dolphins, and at this stage an attack by dolphins is presumed to have caused their deaths. These animals were transported to the Scottish Agricultural College in Aberdeen where they await post-mortem.

Attacks by dolphins on porpoises have been investigated in several scientific papers. Bottlenose dolphins and harbour porpoises do not prey upon each other, and consequently a predatory basis for the interactions can be eliminated. However, several other mammal species engage in inter-specific killings where direct predation is not the primary driver, for example when eliminating potential competitors for food resources (e.g. wolves killing coyotes).

Since over 60% of porpoises stranded in Scottish waters since the 1990s exhibit signs of attack by bottlenose dolphins.

If dolphins have an image as “giggling, smiley-faced cutie pies” then that is predominantly the result of media misrepresentation, and is equally as inappropriate as the negative portrayal in these articles. Biologists and naturalists who observe dolphins in the field understand that they are wild animals with a complex suite of behaviours which scientists are still at a very early stage of interpreting

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