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J Acoust Soc Am. 2017 Nov;142(5):EL512. doi: 10.1121/1.5011673.

Last call: Passive acoustic monitoring shows continued rapid decline of critically endangered vaquita.

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Centre for Research into Ecological and Environmental Modelling, University of St Andrews, The Observatory, Buchanan Gardens, St Andrews, Fife, KY16 9LZ, United Kingdom
Instituto Nacional de Ecologia y Cambio Climatico/SEMARNAT, Coordinacion de Investigacion y Conservacion de Mamiferos Marinos, CICESE Camper 10, Carretera Ensenada-Tijuana 3918, Zona Playitas, Ensenada, Baja California 22860, Mexico,,,
Alaska Fisheries Science Center, NOAA Fisheries, Marine Mammal Laboratory, Seattle, Washington 98115, USA
NOAA Southwest Fisheries Science Center, Marine Mammal and Turtle Division, 8901 La Jolla Shores Drive, La Jolla, California 92037, USA,,
Chelonia Limited, The Barkhouse, Mousehole, TR196PH, United Kingdom


The vaquita is a critically endangered species of porpoise. It produces echolocation clicks, making it a good candidate for passive acoustic monitoring. A systematic grid of sensors has been deployed for 3 months annually since 2011; results from 2016 are reported here. Statistical models (to compensate for non-uniform data loss) show an overall decline in the acoustic detection rate between 2015 and 2016 of 49% (95% credible interval 82% decline to 8% increase), and total decline between 2011 and 2016 of over 90%. Assuming the acoustic detection rate is proportional to population size, approximately 30 vaquita (95% credible interval 8-96) remained in November 2016.

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