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An Idaho Filmmaker Hopes To Save A Tiny Porpoise In Mexico

Tom Jefferson
Pictures of live vaquitas are hard to come by. Here's a rare photo of "The Panda of the Sea."

An Idaho filmmaker is part of a desperate battle to help save the world’s smallest cetacean.

Last June, we first told you about Matthew Podolsky and his documentary on an Idaho man who's spent 35 years helping the state's bluebirds. But lately, Podolsky has been filming a short documentary in Mexico, trying to save what’s often called “the Panda of the Sea.”

The vaquita is a small species of porpoise with dark circles around its eyes and mouth. It’s about five-feet long when fully grown. It’s found only in the very northernmost part of the Gulf of California, right near the delta where the Colorado River flows into the Gulf. And it’s extremely endangered.

Podolsky told me there may have been up to 6,000 of them a couple hundred years ago. Now there are probably fewer than 60 left.

“Nobody’s given up on this species yet, but this is dire, this is a crisis situation for the species. The species could be extinct by 2018,” says Podolsky.

Podolsky’s production company “Wild Lens” released a short video called “Searching for the Vaquita” last month. He’s hoping to make a longer film, “Souls of the Vermilion Sea,” to try and raise awareness and convince the Mexican government to extend a ban on gillnets. But, Podolsky admits he's worried the vaquita could be extinct by the time his film comes out.

You can watch the short film, "Searching for the Vaquita," below.

https://vimeo.com/166852669">Souls of the Vermilion Sea: Searching for the Vaquita from https://vimeo.com/wildlens">Wild Lens on Vimeo.

Find Samantha Wright on Twitter @samwrightradio

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