The vaquita resembles nothing as much as a slim grey torpedo, with little beak to speak of and a grey coloring that darkens around its eyes and fins. They’re small—the the smallest known cetacean species—and endearing, their eyes rendered even larger by their dark markings. Unfortunately, vaquitas are most likely seen dead, caught in fishing nets in the Gulf of California, and that’s unlikely to change without real help. The vaquita’s estimated wild population is only 100, with news websites eager to make dire proclamations of what year the species will become extinct, joining the Chinese river dolphin as the second dolphin species to be driven out by human pressure. That’s where Omar Vidal comes in.
Omar, a scientist with 30 years of field work and international conservation experience, has worked throughout the world with universities, the United Nations and NGOs. He has studied and published extensively about aquatic mammals and the vaquita in the Gulf of California and dedicated half of his life to saving this porpoise from extinction. Omar also worked on marine conservation in Latin America, Africa, Europe and West Asia. Since 2003, he has led the World Wildlife Fund in Mexico, focusing on conserving—together with local communities, authorities, NGOs and the private sector—the country´s amazing biodiversity, including jaguars, monkeys, whales and dolphins, birds, marine turtles, sharks, freshwater fish, and many other endangered species and their habitats.
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-Text by Elizabeth Rogers