Expedition spots only 6 to 8 vaquita porpoises, the most endangered marine mammal

FILE-Image of a porpoise swimming in an ocean. PLEASE NOTE this is not the vaquita porpoise, only a file photo. (Photo By Paul Chinn/The San Francisco Chronicle via Getty Images)

Roughly six to eight critically endangered vaquita marina porpoises were seen in 2024 in the Gulf of California. 

Researchers explained to the Associated Press that a couple of the remaining vaquitas — the world’s most endangered marine mammal — possibly moved to another spot in the Gulf, the only location globally where they live.

But this year, Sea Shepherd, a conservation group, told the AP that a similar expedition held May 5-26 sighted roughly a half dozen vaquitas, but no baby vaquitas were seen this year.

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During a sighting expedition in 2023, experts projected that they saw between 10 and 13 of the tiny porpoises while sailing in the Gulf for almost two weeks. 

Since the animals are small and elusive, the vaquitas often are only viewed from a distance using binoculars, and these sightings are categorized as probable or likely. 

The AP noted that the vaquitas also radiate "clicks" that are heard using sound monitoring tools. 

The Associated Press contributed to this report. This story was reported from Washington, D.C.