Mark SimmondsDirector of Science

The IWC Vaquita Extinction Alert is unprecedented but more alerts will follow.


Vaquita Extinction Alert: Podcast

September 12, 2023

The perilous situation of the vaquita porpoise has led the International Whaling Commission (IWC) to issue its first ever Extinction Alert.

The vaquita is a small porpoise found only in the Gulf of California in Mexico. There are about 10 surviving animals and the IWC is speaking out now because it believes extinction is not yet inevitable. Despite the very low number of surviving animals, 100% enforcement of a ban on gillnets in their core habitat would still give this small but resilient porpoise a chance of recovery.

This initiative is led by the Scientific Committee of the IWC. This group of around 200 scientists recently concluded that a new mechanism is needed to voice extinction concerns for an increasing number of cetaceans (whale, dolphin and porpoise) species and populations and so the Extinction Alert was born.

Podcast with Mark Simmonds

Mark Simmonds, the OceanCare Director of Science, was involved in the development and issuing of the IWC’s first Extinction Alert.  You can hear him describing the process which led to this unprecedented action for this critically endangered species and reflecting on further actions in the podcast ‘Extinction Alert: Vaquita!’ which can be freely accessed here on the Society of Marine Mammalogy website: