Skip to content

Research at St Andrews

Extinction is imminent for Mexico’s endemic porpoise unless fishery bycatch is eliminated

Research output: Contribution to journalLetter


Open Access permissions



Barbara L. Taylor, Lorenzo Rojas-Bracho, Jeffrey Moore, Armando Jaramillo-Legorreta, Jay M. Ver Hoef, Gustavo Cardenas-Hinojosa, Edwyna Nieto-Garcia, Jay Barlow, Tim Gerrodette, Nicholas Tregenza, Len Thomas, Philip S. Hammond

School/Research organisations


The number of Mexico’s endemic porpoise, the vaquita (Phocoena sinus), is collapsing primarily due to bycatch in illegal gillnets set for totoaba (Totoaba macdonaldi), an endangered fish whose swim bladders are exported to China. Previous research estimated that vaquitas declined from about 567 to 245 individuals between 1997 and 2008. Acoustic monitoring between 2011 and 2015 showed a decline of 34%/year. Here, we combine visual line transect and passive acoustic data collected simultaneously in a robust spatial analysis to estimate that only 59 (95% Bayesian Credible Interval [CRI] 22 – 145) vaquita remained as of autumn 2015, a decrease since 1997 of 92% (95% CRI 80%-97%). Risk analysis suggests that if the current, temporary gillnet ban is maintained and effectively enforced, vaquitas could recover to 2008 population levels by 2050. Otherwise, the species is likely to be extinct within a decade.


Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)588-595
Number of pages8
JournalConservation Letters
Issue number5
Early online date5 Dec 2016
Publication statusPublished - 12 Oct 2017

    Research areas

  • Extinction, Illegal fishing, Line transect, Phocoena sinus, Totoaba macdonaldi, Vaquita abundance , Passive acoustic monitoring , C-POD

Discover related content
Find related publications, people, projects and more using interactive charts.

View graph of relations

Related by author

  1. Whale distribution in a breeding area: spatial models of habitat use and abundance of western South Atlantic humpback whales

    Bortolotto, G. A., Danilewicz, D., Hammond, P. S., Thomas, L. J. & Zerbini, A. N., 27 Dec 2017, In : Marine Ecology Progress Series. 585, p. 213-227

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

  2. Gauging allowable harm limits to cumulative, sub-lethal effects of human activities on wildlife: a case-study approach using two whale populations

    Williams, R., Thomas, L., Ashe, E., Clark, C. W. & Hammond, P. S., Aug 2016, In : Marine Policy. 70, p. 58-64 7 p.

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

  3. Impacts of anthropogenic noise on marine life: publication patterns, new discoveries, and future directions in research and management

    Williams, R., Wright, A. J., Ashe, E., Blight, LK., Bruintjes, R., Canessa, R., Clark, CW., Cullis-Suzuki, S., Dakin, DT., Erbe, C., Hammond, P. S., Merchant, MD., O'Hara, PD., Purser, J., Radford, AN., Simpson, SD., Thomas, L. & Wale, MA., Oct 2015, In : Ocean and Coastal Management. 115, p. 17-24

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

  4. Global analysis of cetacean line-transect surveys: detecting trends in cetacean density

    Jewell, R. L., Thomas, L., Harris, C. M., Kaschner, K., Wiff, R. A., Hammond, P. S. & Quick, N. J., 7 May 2012, In : Marine Ecology Progress Series. 453, p. 227-240

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Related by journal

  1. The allure of the illegal: choice modeling of rhino horn demand in Vietnam

    Hanley, N., Sheremet, O. I., Bozzola, M. & MacMillan, D. C., 30 May 2018, In : Conservation Letters. 11, 3, e12417.

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

  2. Addressing uncertainty in marine resource management; combining community engagement and tracking technology to characterize human behavior

    Metcalfe, K., Collins, T., Abernethy, K. E., Boumba, R., Dengui, J-C., Miyalou, R., Parnell, R. J., Plummer, K. E., Russell, D. J. F., Safou, G. K., Tilley, D., Turner, R. A., VanLeeuwe, H., Witt, M. J. & Godley, B. J., 14 Aug 2017, In : Conservation Letters. 10, 4, p. 459-468 10 p.

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

  3. Another continental vulture crisis: Africa’s vultures collapsing toward extinction

    Ogada, D., Shaw, P., Beyers, R. L., Buij, R., Murn, C., Thiollay, J. M., Beale, C. M., Holdo, R. M., Pomeroy, D., Baker, N., Krüger, S. C., Botha, A., Virani, M. Z., Monadjem, A. & Sinclair, A. R. E., 26 Apr 2016, In : Conservation Letters. 9, 2, p. 89-97 9 p.

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

  4. An investigation using the choice experiment method into options for reducing illegal bushmeat hunting in western Serengeti

    Moro, M., Fischer, A., Czajkowski, M., Brennan, D., Lowassa, A., Naiman, L. C. & Hanley, N., 1 Feb 2013, In : Conservation Letters. 6, 1, p. 37-45 9 p.

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

ID: 245326996