Tracking Vaquita on the David Starr Jordan

Expedition Vaquita is over. The NOAA Fisheries research vessel David Starr Jordan returned to San Diego after an epic two month expedition to search for and document the number of vaquita in the northern gulf, the rarest and most endangered cetacean on the planet. Last week, the scientists concluded the research, left the ship and returned home. The David Starr Jordan made its way back down the gulf of California, around the Baja Peninsula, back to its home port. Media was not permitted onboard the vessel during the expedition. However, NOAA gave us permission to film on the ship and interview scientists for our documentary. When I returned from El Golfo de Santa Clara, I joined the ship for a week in November.

I had the opportunity to spend time with and speak in depth to scientists Barbara Taylor and Tim Gerrodette of the NOAA Fisheries Southwest Fisheries Science Center in La Jolla, California. I wanted to learn more about the purpose of the expedition in Mexico, the science behind the visual survey, and explore the new acoustic technologies they were assessing to monitor the vaquita population throughout the year.

Following is the latest in the series of short “rough cuts” produced about the expedition.

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So what are the results of the survey? We are going to have to wait for scientists onboard to collate and publish the results about the estimated number of vaquita, which will assist the Mexican Government in modifying and implementing effective management strategies for the long term protection of the desert porpoise. However, the research is not ending here. The Mexican research boat, the Koi Pai, will continue to deploy and test acoustic buoys to collect data in the upper gulf to keep tabs on the species throughout the year.

Later this week, I will post my final blog in this series about how fishermen in the region feel about the Vaquita, and the conservation measures being implemented.

David Starr Jordan conducting the line transect survey. Photo - Chris Johnson