If searching for a cute character to draw, or an inspiring story to tell, consider the most endangered marine mammals in the world: vaquitas!
Swimming in a small reserve at the northern end of the Sea of Cortez (Gulf of California, only 50 miles from the US border) vaquitas have never been hunted, their food sources are not over-fished, and locals and the Mexican government support efforts to preserve them.
The problem is they drown in cheap common nylon fishing nets — all the time. There are only a few hundred left, several dozen die annually. Their plight needs public attention desperately.
Fortunately they are the cutest creatures conceivable. The ‘desert porpoise’ is at the very heart of Mexico.
Proposals to prevent vaquita extinction include:
1) Extend the southern border of the Upper Gulf Biosphere Reserve to include their entire range.
2) Terminate all shrimp and gill net fishing in the Reserve.
3) Employ former fishermen from the Reserve in sustainable occupations. (This is not as difficult as it seems, the largest town on the banks of the reserve has a population of only 20,000 persons.)