Sea of Shadows, a Film About Saving the Vaquita, the Most Endangered Marine Mammal in the World

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The critically endangered vaquita whale
A rare glimpse of the critically endangered vaquita porpoise. Photo: National Geographic.

The documentary film Sea of Shadows – about the peril that the near-extinct vaquita porpoise is in – has just opened in theaters. The vaquita is world’s smallest cetacean and the most endangered marine mammal on the planet.

The film follows a team of scientists, conservationists, investigative journalists, undercover agents, and members of the Mexican Navy – all who have put their lives at risk – as they try to save this little cetacean. There are possibly only 15 vaquitas remaining on Earth.

Here’s Sea of Shadows’ official trailer:

Right now, the vaquita’s natural habitat, the Sea of Cortez, is at risk of total ecological collapse. Jacques Cousteau once called the Sea of Cortez “the aquarium of the world” because of its abundance of life.

The cause of the vaquita’s vanishing numbers and the near-collapse of the Sea of Cortez ecosystem is illegal, exploitative fishing, namely of a fish called the totoaba, at the demand of Mexican drug cartels who are in business with the Chinese mafia. No, this is not a fictional Hollywood film. This is real life, right now, the world we live in.

Illegal gill nets pulled from the sea by the nonprofit Sea Shepherd
The collection of illegal gill nets pulled from the sea by the nonprofit Sea Shepherd is one of the reasons the vaquita has not yet become totally extinct. Photo: National Geographic.

To hunt the totoaba – simply because human beings want to eat it – the cartels are forcing the use of illegal gill nets, which kill a wide variety of other marine life, including the vaquita.

The film is a National Geographic Documentary Film and it’s directed by Richard Ladkani. Leonardo DiCaprio is one of the films executive producers.

Other producers and executive producers include Walter Köhler, Wolfgang Knöpfler, Jennifer Davisson, Phillip Watson, Dinah Czezik-Müller, Michael Frenschkowski, Rebecca Cammisa, and Laura Nix.

Learn more at National Geographic.com.

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