Vaquitas are generalist feeders, consuming a wide variety of over 21 benthic and demersal (bottom-dwelling) teleost fish, squids, and crustaceans.
Stomach contents from entangled animals have been examined for prey species identification. The 19 species of prey identified primarily represented demersal and benthic fish and squids. Epipelagic and demersal fish were found in stomachs from 10 vaquitas. Squid was also found, but considered to be secondary.
Stomachs from another 24 vaquitas contained primarily two species of endemic fish, a small corvina (Isopisthus altipinnis) and a midshipman toadfish (Porichthys mimeticus), and one of two species of small squids.
Bronzestriped grunt (Orthopristis reddingi) and the bairdiella croaker (Bairdiella icistia) have also been found in the stomachs of a few decomposed vaquita found beach-cast.
Sources: (Brownell, 1983; Brownell, 1982; Findley, Nava, & Torre, 1995; Fitch & Brownell, 1968; Hohn & D’Agrosa, 1997; NOAA, 2008; Rojas-Bracho, Reeves, Jaramillo-Legorreta, & Taylor, 2008)
Image: Noelle M. Brooks