The vaquita has the smallest geographical range of any marine mammal.
Nearly the entire population lives within a 4,000 square kilometer (1,519 square mile) area, an area less than ¼ the size of metropolitan Los Angeles. The vaquita is known to occur only in the extreme northern Gulf of California, Mexico, mainly north of 30° 45’N and west of 114° 20’W. The ‘core area’ of the vaquita distribution consists of about 2,500 km² and is centered around Rocas Consag (31° 18’N, 114° 25′ W), 40 kilometers northeast of the town of San Felipe, Baja California. The range of the vaquita coincides with most of the Upper Gulf of California and Delta of the Colorado River Biosphere Reserve, one of the Earth’s most extraordinary marine habitats supporting a diversity of macro-invertebrates, fish, birds, marine reptiles and marine mammals.
There is no evidence to indicate that the vaquita’s overall range has changed in historic times.
Sources: (Barlow, Rojas-Bracho, Piña, & Mesnick, 2010; Becker, 2017; Brownell, 1982; EIA, 2016; Gerrodette, Fleischer, Perez-Cortez, & Villa Ramirez, 1995; Hohn & D’Agrosa, 1997; Mungia-Vega, Esquer-Garrigos, Rojas-Bracho, Vazquez-Juarez, Castro-Prieto, & Flores-Ramirez, 2007; NOAA, 2008; Rojas-Bracho, Reeves, & Jaramillo-Legorreta, 2006; Rojas-Bracho, Reeves, Jaramillo-Legorreta, & Taylor, 2008; Vidal, Findley, & Leatherwood, 1993)
Image: NOAA Fisheries West Coast