Expedition summary

The 2013 Vaquita Expedition has drawn to a close. Though it was not exactly what everyone had been hoping for, there were some upsides to the expedition. Here is the email I received from Tom Jefferson on Friday:

“Greetings,
We have just returned from our 24-day Vaquita photographic expedition in San Felipe. The project had some bad luck and we were not able to get high-quality images of Vaquitas, as we had hoped. Here are some lowlights and highlights of the project:

Lowlights
1) The only Vaquita images obtained were very distant and blurry.
2) Of 22 potential days to work, nearly half (10) were too windy to even consider going out to sea. We had very little calm conditions (Beaufort 0-1), which is important for finding Vaquitas.
3) In one of our sightings that presented good photo prospects, three large trawlers moved through and scared the Vaquitas away just as we were attempting to get photos.
4) We did not observe any fishing with the new mini-trawl nets.

Highlights
1) We conducted 558 miles of searches for Vaquitas while traveling in two boats.
2) We conducted over 20 hours of intensive ‘stop and drift’ searches while sitting in the water with engines off.
3) We had 11 cetacean sightings (including several groups of long-beaked common dolphins, and large whales).
4) We observed three groups of Vaquitas at relatively close range.
5) We did not observe any illegal fishing with gillnets in the Vaquita Refuge.
6) We conducted a talk on the Vaquita for about 45 people at El Dorado Ranch.
7) We distributed educational brochures and coloring books to several businesses in town.

We are disappointed that we did not obtain any high-quality Vaquita images this year, but are not giving up. We are re-evaluating our approach for future expeditions.

Best wishes,
Tom
¡VIVA Vaquita!”

I was, of course, frustrated that the weather did not cooperate, and that once again the bad timing of large vessels scared away good photo subjects. It would have been incredible to get new Vaquita images to use for publicity, or at least witness the use of Vaquita-friendly fishing gear. Though it wasn’t an ideal mission, there are a few very important positives that we should focus on. First of all is the fact that they were able to go on the expedition in the first place. This means that they are getting the funding they need in order to successfully complete the endeavors they feel necessary to save the Vaquita. Going by the goals that I set in previous posts, the mission was technically a success in that they saw multiple groups of Vaquitas (more than in 2010!) as well as no illegal fishing. Firstly, this means that they are still alive and probably reproducing because when Vaquita are in groups it usually includes a mother and her calf, which would have been born in the spring, meaning Vaquitas were mating within the last few years and hopefully the summer of this year so calves are born next spring. Secondly, if there are no gillnets in the Vaquita Refuge, then the mortality rate of the species will be about zero, meaning any births will increase the population. I hope this expedition helped and will continue to help the spreading of awareness for the Vaquita, from the talk, to the brochures, to the coloring books. It would also be great if everyone reading this post shared their knowledge of the Vaquita on all their social networks and to all their friends. There is still hope for the Vaquita if we work together!

CEDO Eco Shop

I just received an awesome package from the CEDO Eco Shop, the gift store of the Intercultural Center for the Study of Deserts and Oceans. They have so many amazing items, including a Vaquita section where the profits go to our favorite little cetacean. I bought my sister some nice Vaquita earrings (the only available ones in the world to my understanding) created by local women who live in Puerto Peñasco, one of the 3 towns surrounding the Vaquita’s range. They were only $10, but you can purchase different types at various prices.

Earrings

Another great Vaquita item I bought was the CEDO publication “The Vaquita of the Gulf of California.” The 28-page magazine-style book from 2002 is very interesting and absolutely worth its bargain price of $5. Please consider purchasing some of the incredible items in this gift shop!

The Vaquita of the Gulf of California

Interior

An amazing feature I found in the Eco Shop was their Amazon “portal,” which is a link to the same Amazon page we all know and love, except on this one, when you purchase anything, a portion of the profits goes to CEDO! So if you want to donate to CEDO and the Vaquita, but also really want that pair of shoes you saw on Amazon a few days ago, click the link below and shop away with a lot less guilt. 😉

You can also buy my Vaquita book with that link, and in doing so, donate to at least 3 Vaquita charities at once! You can also buy it here: https://www.createspace.com/4268018. In addition, please read this extremely nice article from the website “Greening the Beige” about my book: http://greeningthebeige.org/gtb/node/1863.

Hey, I almost forgot to ask! How did you find this blog? Was it from a Google search? A link on another website? Or something else? Please submit your answer in the poll in the sidebar, to help me learn how to maximize this blog’s viewing. Thanks from the Vaquita!

Group size

A usual group of Vaquitas contains 1 to 3 individuals. Occasionally there is a larger group, containing up to 10 Vaquitas. But like many other cetaceans, multiple pods join on rare instances, creating superpods that can hold up to 40 individuals!

WWF top 10

Dead Vaquita

This is the picture shown as #5 on the WWF Top 2012 Endangered Species List

Click the link: http://news.yahoo.com/photos/wwf-s-top-2012-endangered-species-1325806837-slideshow/#crsl=%252Fphotos%252Fwwf-s-top-2012-endangered-species-1325806837-slideshow%252F-wwf-us-eugene-lee-photo-1325806257.html to see WWF’s top 10 list of endangered species to be on the look-out for in 2012. Even though the picture is depressing, it is vital for the species.