Vaquita by Brooke Bessesen | An Island Press book

Free Summer Read!

Looking for a summer read? Come along on this "[i]ntrepid conservation detective story " by Brooke Bessesen!

Our free summer e-book offer ends July 7th 2020.  Click on the links to get the book from your preferred e-book retailer.

Available for free until July 7th at these retailers:

Amazon   |   Island Press   |   Google Play   |   Apple   |   Your Local Independent Bookseller

"Intrepid conservation detective story."

"Vaquita is a lucid, informed, and gripping account of a species that will soon be lost in the absence of effective actions...Bessesen approaches the plight of the vaquita with the thoroughness and inquisitiveness of a scientist and the passion of an environmentalist. She has written a must-read for anyone keen to understand the realities of protecting biodiversity. In doing so, she fulfilled a promise she made to a small female vaquita that died from entanglement in a gillnet: 'I will tell your story...'"

" Passionate...a heartfelt and alarming tale."
Publishers Weekly

" Gripping...well-told and moving tale of environmentalism and conservation."


International Save the Vaquita Day Goes Virtual on July 18, 2020

Vaquita is a panda-faced porpoise. It is the world’s most endangered marine mammal, found only in Mexico’s Gulf of California. And as it rapidly nears extinction, supporters worldwide are rising in its defence.

If you have watched the award-winning Nat Geo documentary Sea of Shadows, you understand the problem: vaquitas are drowning in illegal gillnets, which are cast for certain fish. There is a U.S. embargo on seafood coming out of the region, but poaching continues amid widespread corruption. Sea Shepherd Conservation Society was actively patrolling vaquita habitat until it was forced to suspend its campaign due to covid-19.

On the right, Ana, a mother vaquita identified in 2018 | Photo credit: Associated Press
On the right, Ana, a mother vaquita identified in 2018 | Photo credit: Associated Press

An official survey from fall 2019 suggests only about 10 porpoises remain—thankfully, they appear heathy and are frequently seen with calves. Nothing cuter than baby vaquitas. And it’s our global responsibility to save them!

On July 18, in addition to live events, talks and programs will be hosted online in support of International Save the Vaquita Day 2020. Island Press author and advocate Brooke Bessesen, who wrote Vaquita: Science Politics and Crime in the Sea of Cortez, will be participating. A growing list of happenings can be accessed through Viva Vaquita and Porpoise Conservation Society.


Vaquita by Brooke Bessesen | An Island Press book


Know the facts.

Raise awareness.

  • Tell others about the plight of vaquita. Write and share posts on Twitter and Facebook with the tag @IslandPress.
  • Host Brooke Bessesen to speak at or video chat with your university, environmental conference, local bookstore, community event.
  • Organizations looking to get more involved can email We want to work with you!

Support eco-minded fishermen.

Vote for protective laws.

Be a compassionate consumer.

  • At stores and restaurants, ask where your seafood comes from.
  • Inform your buying choices at Seafood Watch.


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