This spring, sixth graders in the John Dickinson International Baccalaureate Middle Years Programme, under the direction of art teacher Christopher Conrad, created a model of life-size frolicking Vaquita Porpoises for exhibit at the Delaware Museum of Natural History.

Each year, Conrad’s art class chooses a theme and a large project to accompany that theme. This year’s theme for sixth graders was World Culture, which aimed to have students focus on worldwide issues. For the art project, the students selected endangered species in the world.

The students chose to highlight the Vaquita Porpoise specifically in hopes to raise awareness of the animals’ dire situation and support efforts to rescue this critically endangered species.

According to the Marine Mammal Center, Vaquita Porpoises are only found in the shallow waters of the northern Gulf of California in Mexico. Out of 128 marine animals, it is considered the most endangered.

Conrad said the students learned the Vaquita population declined 90 percent between 2011 and 2016, mostly due to illegal gillnets. Those facts and others are on cards throughout the main display based on information from the Viva Vaquita website.

When the students started the project, there were thought to be about 22 Vaquita Porpoises left in the world. The class created 22 life-sized models, some designed to appear to be swimming up and breaking through the tiles on the floor, to show how just how critically endangered the Vaquita Porpoises are.

This is the second summer DMNH has exhibited a project from the Dickinson program. In 2018, Dickinson and DMNH partnered to bring a Tyrannosaurus Rex project model to public view at the Museum. The T-rex was a 1:2 scale model of Sue, the famous dinosaur at the Field Museum in Chicago. We are looking forward to continued collaboration and Conrad is already musing about next year’s project.

The Vaquita Porpoise sculpture is on exhibit in the Skylight Atrium through September 16, 2019.