****The following is a guest post from San Diego High School student, Mari Hoffman. Mari spent two days with us on the Maria Cleofas helping search for the elusive vaquita during our recent shoot for Souls of the Vermilion Sea. Mari has made a commitment to help save this small porpoise from extinction, and in addition to assisting with the survey effort, she has launched a crowdfunding campaign to help raise the funds needed to continue the important vaquita conservation work being done by the non-profit Grupo Cleofas.****
What an amazing weekend I had at sea searching for an amazing and beautiful marine mammal species, the Vaquita. I got involved with this project through Tom Jefferson, an expert on everything related to the Vaquita. I love the ocean and joined this project to be the voice of the animals who can’t speak to protect themselves. It devastates me to see how quickly the Vaquita population numbers have decreased.
This past weekend put me at one with nature and with the real beauty of the ocean. The searching process involves using binoculars and our naked eye to scan the horizon in the hopes of spotting a Vaquita! Not too long into the process, I spotted what I initially thought was a Vaquita, but turned out to be a Bryde’s Whale – a species that I was not familiar with up until this trip. The next day we did have an official sighting of a Vaquita, which was very satisfying.
Although I am worried about the Vaquita numbers, it is hard to make predictions until the Ocean Star (the official vaquita survey boat) mission is done with factual information that can be analyzed. Overall this trip was very relaxing and peaceful compared to the hectic and always on-the-go life on land. There’s something about being on a boat that relaxes and calms you. I am very proud to be part of such a cool team and I can’t wait to see what will happen next!
Tags: endangered vaquita, grupo cleofas, mari hoffman, maria cleofas, save the vaquita, students for conservation, Vaquita, vaquita conservation, vaquita survey