via: Western Prince Whale Watching & Wildlife Tours

Check out these AMAZING photos taken by our guest September 14, 2015 on the morning Western Explorer trip! These images were taken by Dale Johnson, thank you Dale! These are incredible. This was a group of transient Killer whales that were hunting Harbor porpoise when an orca jumped from the air with one in his mouth. Check out more of Dale’s photography at:

Here are a few more dolphins for this project - Ocean Life ID. However these are not exclusive so if anyone is interested in making use of them, please contact us for the purchase of higher resolution pictures :)

Done digitally. The species here are  - Phocoena phocoena, Phocoenoides Dalli, Phocoena Spinipinnis.

Vaquita (Phocoena sinus) are so few in the world that all of them fit on a Illustration.

Quedan tan pocas Vaquitas Marinas (Phocoena sinus) en el mundo que todas caben en una ilustración.

With less than 60 vaquitas remaining in the wild, it is imperative that governments work together to eliminate the illegal fishing activity that is driving the vaquita, among other species, to extinction.



(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.




Vaquita (Phocoena sinus)

The vaquita is a rare species of porpoise. It is endemic to the northern part of the Gulf of California. Estimates of the number of individuals alive range from 100 to 300. Vaquitas are the smallest and most endangered species of the cetacean.Vaquitas use high-pitched sounds to communicate with one another and for echolocation to navigate through their habitats. They generally seem to feed and swim at a leisurely pace. Vaquitas avoid all boats and are very evasive. They rise to breathe with a slow forward motion and then disappear quickly. This lack of activity at the surface makes them difficult to observe. Vaquitas are usually alone unless they are accompanied by a calf, meaning that they are less social than other dolphin species. Vaquitas are nonselective predators.

Orca Watcher PhotographyOrca Network:

I have never seen anything like this! We were out with the T137s this afternoon when one whale spyhopped with what looked like a piece of meat in its mouth. It was also “head banging”, shaking it back and forth. Only when I got home and looked at my pictures did I see that in its mouth it had a harbor porpoise fetus, fully intact! (x)


THE VAQUITA (Phocoena sinus)

The Vaquita, meaning tiny cow, was recognized in 1958 due to skull findings, but they were fully described in 1985 when live sightings were found of them. The Vaquita is one of six species of porpoise. It is undeniably one of the smallest cetaceans in the world, and probably one of the cutest along with it. At maximum, Vaquitas will reach about 4 feet, 11 inches in length with females being larger. Calves, alone, are roughly 28 to 38 inches long at birth. Their maximum known life span is 21 years. Females reach maturity at around 3 to 6 years of age while males are thought to be similar. Female Vaquitas are thought to give birth once every two years with a gestation period of 10 to 11 months. Vaquitas are known to feed on ocean fish, and squid.

 Unfortunately, the Vaquita is also one of the most critically endangered cetaceans in the world, as they fall victim to fishing gears and gill nets. Despite the predators of Vaquita possibly consisting of large sharks and killer whales (possible is said because it has never been directly recorded), it is human intervention that causes the most casualties as, at the very least, some 30 Vaquitas, to as many as 80-90, will die per year. As such, the Vaquita is extremely rare, and can only be found in the Northern portion of the Sea of Cortez. 

The vaquita is endemic to the relatively murky, shallow waters of the northern Gulf of California, near the estuary of the Colorado River. Most sightings have been in water less than 130ft/40m depth and within about 25 miles/40km of shore.

As stated, the Vaquita is critically endangered and time is quickly running out for them. It is estimated that there are LESS than 100 individuals left and at the rate that they are being killed, extinction is very imminent - possibly even 2 years from now. 


“Become a responsible consumer– In a perfect world, the Upper Gulf’s fisheries would all be certified as sustainable, but as of today none of them are. We are slowly moving towards that scenario. With NGOs, the government and fishermen are working in collaboration to improve fisheries management and fishing practices. But in the mean time, we can try to become responsible consumers. Buy fish and shrimp directly from cooperatives that actively participate in vaquita conservation efforts. This will create an incentive to stay involved by helping local micro economies thrive. While the region is best known for its shrimp fishery, fishermen engage in a wide array of fisheries that provide great quality products that are harvested responsibly.

Support groups working in the area – There are many groups working on the field and everyone could use your help. Get involved by volunteering or doing internships with NGOs. It is definitely a great way to learn about the region while meeting great people. If you can’t make it to the Upper Gulf, there are other great ways to get involved. Providing economic support to any of the groups involved is great, as is signing petitions and spreading the word about the issues. The most important thing is that you always try to find out exactly how local communities will benefit from your actions.

Support local economies– Now that many of the fishermen are retiring from fishing and starting new businesses, it is important to support them in their new endeavors. If you travel to the area try staying in any of the ecological lodges, or maybe have a nice meal in a restaurant set up as part of the vaquita conservation program. Many of the fishermen are now entering into the ecotourism industry so make sure your sightseeing or fishing trip is set up with one of them. For a list of some of the new businesses in the region you can visit CEDO’s web page, or simply ask around and people will point in the right direction. Remember that the more support these communities receive, the better chance we have of keeping the waters gillnet free.

Ask questions, join the conversation– Vaquita conservation is complex and very dynamic. It involves environmental issues as well as social, political and economic matters. Do not be afraid to ask questions. There are many wonderful people willing to spend time talking about the issues. Whether you want to talk to someone from an NGO about environmental aspects, to a fisherman about fishing and their view on sustainability, or even someone from the government, understanding the situation is the first step towards finding a solution.”


Another website with more information on what you can do to help. (MUSIC PLAYS. Have your sound off if this bothers you.)

Here are also some petitions that can be signed, at the very least!:


this porpoise is a extremely rare adult hypo pigmented (aka leucistic) harbour porpoise in the northern North Sea. The rarity is because only 7 individuals have been recorded in the last 100 years in UK waters. Indicates that these individuals can survive for long pediod of time, despite a natural disavantage.


Porpoise Profile: Spectacled Porpoise (Phocoena dioptrica)

Distribution and Population: It is believed that the spectacled porpoise lives in circumpolar waters in the southern hemisphere. Skeletons of specimens have been found in large amounts near Tierra Del Fuego in South America, suggesting many porpoises live there. This is an little known species and there are no population estimates. 

Appearance: Even though they are scarce, they are unmistakable creatures. Their name, spectacled porpoise, comes from the dark circles around their eyes, giving them the appearance of wearing glasses. Male porpoises have extremely large and rounded dorsal fins and females have smaller ones. Their mouths are black as well.

External image

Diet and Predators: Prey recovered from dead specimens include fish, squid, and crustaceans, but not much is known about their diets. Information about predators is also lacking. 

Behavior and Breeding: Spectacled porpoises are shy and avoid boats, but they are fast and active swimmers. They travel in groups up to 25 individuals. Breeding information is scarce; however, it is thought that females give birth in the spring and summer. 

Threats: These porpoises are at risk of net entanglement. They used to be caught often in crab and fish nets off Tierra Del Fuego, but these nets are not in use anymore. But increasing fishing activity in the southern hemisphere means the threat is still there.

(Image credit: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8
Support #ISTVD2016, a day dedicated to spreading awareness for the world's most endangered marine mammal, the Vaquita porpoise!
Buy a t-shirt to support International Save the Vaquita Day 2016. Please share!

Buy a cool t-shirt to help support International Save the Vaquita Day! It is estimated that there are only 50-79 individuals remaining. All of the proceeds will be donated to an organization trying to help this endangered porpoise.

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.
‘Aquatic cocaine’: Illegal trade in swim bladders of rare fish puts world’s rarest porpoise at risk of extinction
Conservationists estimate that if the illegal trade and current rate of decline continues, vaquitas could become extinct by 2018.
  • Dried swim bladders of totoabas (also called “maw”) have been dubbed “aquatic cocaine” due to the high prices they fetch mainly in Chinese markets.
  • Illegal trade in the swim bladder of the totoabas, has placed not just the totoabas but also the world’s smallest and rarest marine mammal, the vaquita, at risk of extinction, according to report
  • EIA’s investigation has also identified numerous online platforms, such as Facebook, that actively trade in fish maw, including discussions on best routes to smuggle maws into Hong Kong and China.

An illegal trade in the swim bladder of the rare totoabas has placed both these fish and the world’s smallest and rarest marine mammal — the vaquita — at risk of extinction, a report by the Environmental Investigation Agency (EIA) has revealed. 

Both species are critically endangered, and found only in the Gulf of California.Dried swim bladders of totoabas — organs that help fish float — have been dubbed “aquatic cocaine” due to the high prices they fetch mainly in Chinese markets. For every kilogram of totoaba swim bladders sold, fishermen reportedly receive up to $8,500 in the local black market, according to the report. 

This demand for swim bladders (also called “maw”), for unproven medicinal benefits, is threatening not just the rare totoabas (Totoaba macdonaldi), but also the vaquita (Phocoena sinus), which get caught illegally in nets used to catch totoabas.In fact, fewer than 100 vaquitas remain in the Gulf of California. And conservationists estimate that if the current rate of decline continues, vaquitas could become extinct by 2018.

The Vaquita is the world’s most endangered marine mammal - less than 60 remain… 

 International Save the Vaquita Day is a day dedicating to sharing this beautiful little animal’s plight to the world, and you can be a part of this event! Please buy a shirt to spread awareness and show your support for the Vaquita! All profits will go to Vaquita conservation, specifically International Save the Vaquita Day!

If you care about the vaquita, please sign the petition to extend the gill net ban in their range. Give them a chance to live!



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