Vaquita - Saving the Desert Porpoise (2013) is a short film exploring the decline of the critically endangered vaquita porpoise and solutions for the species in the Upper Gulf of California, Mexico. 


Vaquita Film

Vaquita Endangered Porpoise is a story filmed over 5 years by Chris Johnson and includes top marine scientists, conservationists, and people from the local communities. We spoke with researcher Bob Pitman of NOAA about an extinction of the Yangtze River Dolphin in China. We spent two months on an international scientific expedition in Mexico searching for the elusive animal in the upper gulf of California. We met local fishermen whose survival is dependent on the sea. And, we visited with researchers at WWF Mexico to learn more about a potential solution that may bring these animals back from the edge. However, has time run out?

Vaquita populations are declining primarily due to gillnet fishing. Although researchers are developing alternative fishing gear that are vaquita safe, time is running out.
— Chris Johnson


  • The vaquita lives only in the northern reaches of the Gulf of California, Mexico, in an area not much larger than 40 square miles.
  • *As of September 2014, the current population estimate is 97 animals.
  • From October-December 2015, NOAA and the scientists in Mexico conducted an expedition to update the population estimate.
  • The vaquita is the smallest of all cetaceans. 
  • The current known maximum length is 4’11”/1.5 m, and the weight about 99-110 lp/45-50kg.
  • There are relatively few records of the vaquita in the wild; they are inconspicuous and illusive, compounded by a strong aversion to boats.
  • Illegal fishing for critically endangered Totoaba fish bladders destined for China is on the rise. This may be impacting the population.