Southern Resident Killer Whale

(Orcinus orca)


Species Size

Weight 70-110kg, max length reported 2.4 meters


Current Status


Just as doctors keep your health records updated, NMMF biologists and veterinarians are working with our colleagues to track the condition of Southern Resident killer whales in Puget Sound by creating a unique scientific health database. With these long-term records, researchers and managers can track individual whale health and determine how to best protect this endangered population of animals.

This is another example of the innovative conservation research conducted by the NMMF. And you can be a part of it! Please consider supporting our Killer Whale Conservation Team by making a donation now. Every dollar donated will improve our ability to build meaningful health records for each Southern Resident killer whale and then track their overall health. Together, we can make a difference.


Photo: Thomas Jefferson

Species Range

The vaquita’s entire range is about 4,000 km2—nearly the size of the state of Rhode Island.

Photo: VaqutiaCPR


Vaquitas have been drowning at alarming rates in gillnets for shrimp and finfish. The government of Mexico banned gillnet fisheries; however, the vaquita porpoise continues to be a victim of bycatch, due to illegal fishing for the totoaba. The swim bladders from the totoaba fish are highly valuable in Chinese markets. Along with the totoaba and masses of other marine life, vaquitas get entangled in these nets and drown.


The NMMF is a key partner in VaquitaCPR. VaquitaCPR (Conservation, Protection, & Recovery), a consortium comprised of marine mammal scientists, veterinarians, and biologists from around the world that came together to attempt to save the vaquita porpoise from extinction. In 2017, the VaquitaCPR team set out on a bold rescue mission aimed at temporarily protecting vaquitas under human care until their natural habitat was safe for them to return.

In the wake of VaquitaCPR field operations, the team launched Project Esperanza with an aim to provide the species with a chance at survival, while also supporting the good work of local fishers and organizations working together to make a difference. Project Esperanza supports the multi-institutional gillnet removal efforts and acoustic monitoring efforts in the Upper Gulf of California, and is urgently working to raise global awareness of the vaquita crisis.

SEa of Shadows

VaquitaCPR’s conservation efforts are featured in the new National Geographic documentary, Sea of Shadows. From executive producer Leonardo DiCaprio and director Richard Ladkani, also known for The Ivory Game, Sea of Shadows follows undercover investigators, scientists, journalists, and the Mexican Navy on their desperate last-minute effort to rescue the Earth’s smallest whale from extinction. The documentary crew spent a month filming with the VaquitaCPR team in San Felipe, Mexico to capture every possible moment of the ground-breaking conservation effort.


Your contribution will directly support the collaborative enhancement of existing local rescue efforts, specifically through the integration of technical veterinary and health assessment support, that will inform conservation actions to increase the survivability of this species.

To learn more about the VaquitaCPR conservation efforts, please visit: