The Koipai Yú-Xá is a 12m research vessel built with support from International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW), the U.S. Marine Mammal Commission and the Mexican Government and designed specifically for monitoring vaquita, as well as other marine mammals, in the Gulf of California. The name of the vessel was chosen by school children from the communities of the upper Gulf of California. Koipai (“people that return”) Yú-Xá (“with the eyes in the water”) is written in Cucapah, the language of the native peoples in the delta of the Colorado River.
The Koipai is operated by the Coordination for Research and Conservation of Marine Mammals at the Instituto Nacional de Ecología (INE), SEMARNAT. The vessel was designed by Armando Jaramillo-Legorreta, a researcher at INE, who has conducted hundreds of hours of acoustic research on vaquita. Most recently, the Koipai has conducted a systematic sampling design based on fixed stations throughout the northern Gulf of California. At each station, researchers listened for vaquita using an analog acoustic detector called a “porpoise box”. These data, in addition to earlier recordings, have shown that the number of acoustic detections have declined by 70% over the last decade (1997-2007; Jaramillo-Legorreta & Rojas-Bracho 2008).
As part of Vaquita Expedition 2008, the Koipai will continue its fixed station work using the Rainbow Click system, designed by Jonathan Gordon of IFAW, and the A-Tag, designed by Tomonari (Tom) Akamatsu of the Fisheries Research Agency, Japan. The Koipai will also be determining detection distances by using “big eye” binoculars to locate vaquita detected by the acoustic gear. The researchers of the Vaquita Expedition will be working together to calibrate the various acoustic detection systems with the earlier detections from the porpoise box.
Please read the latest updates from the field.
Koipai Field Report - 16 October 2008 (español)
Koipai Field Report - 27 October 2008 (español)
Koipai Field Report - 26 November 2008 (español)