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Sea Shepherd
Worldwide

Established in 1977, Sea Shepherd Conservation Society (SSCS) is an international non-profit, marine wildlife conservation organization. Our mission is to end the destruction of habitat and slaughter of wildlife in the world’s oceans in order to conserve and protect ecosystems and species.

Sea Shepherd uses innovative direct-action tactics to investigate, document, and take action when necessary to expose and confront illegal activities on the high seas. By safeguarding the biodiversity of our delicately-balanced ocean ecosystems, Sea Shepherd works to ensure their survival for future generations.

Sea Shepherd is not verified as a 501(c)3 organization.

Latest News

Oct 30, 2014

Meet the Crew - Operation Pacuare’s Brett Bradley

Brett raising awareness about the issues that the turtles faceBrett raising awareness
about Operation Pacuare
Photo: Sea Shepherd
My life is definitely not ordinary, and nor would I want it to be. Growing up having to care for my father who suffers from lifelong injuries sustained while being enlisted in the Australian military, my eyes were open to so much more than that of my friends’. From an early age, most of my free time was spent roaming around the wilderness surrounding my hometown of Fernvale in west Brisbane. It was here that my love for the natural world flourished.

Spending the majority of my free time exploring, I became obsessed with Australia’s incredible wildlife. From the age of 17, my father and I opened our home to care for sick, injured and orphaned wildlife in need of help. It has almost been nine years that the once humble number of animals that would pass through our care grew to over 500. My passion is constantly growing, and I will continue to rescue until I physically cannot. The only time I am away from the shelter is while campaigning with Sea Shepherd.

So far, my time spent with Sea Shepherd has been one of the most rewarding experiences of my life, but also, one of the most trying. Starting out much like the usual first time volunteer working market/merchandise as well as information stalls, I quickly evolved into more direct involvement in my local chapter of Sea Shepherd Brisbane by becoming Brisbane’s Education Coordinator, and now, a veteran campaign member.

My involvement with Sea Shepherd has so far included: on-shore volunteer and Sea Shepherd Brisbane’s Education Coordinator, Operation Infinite Patience - dolphin defence campaign in Taiji, deckhand on the Sam Simon, Operation Apex Harmony (fighting Australia’s shark cull program as well as exposing the unnecessary shark nets), and currently, Operation Pacuare.

Sea Shepherd’s launch of Operation Pacuare was inevitable; the illegal activities that poachers carry out towards the already pressed populations of the hawksbill, green and leatherback sea turtles would not go unnoticed. I first heard of the poachers’ ruthlessness on Costa Rica’s Caribbean coast after the tragic murder of a dedicated young conservationist. As a Sea Shepherd volunteer, I was immediately drawn to this double-edged paradise to do all I could to ensure that no one else would have to pay such a supreme sacrifice defending turtles, as well as to continue the fight for the present and future generations of these incredible ancients of the sea.

During my time on this particular campaign, I have been assigned several duties including night patrols of the seven-kilometre-long beach of Pacuare, guarding eggs in the hatchery day and night, as well as beach clean ups and various community outreach programs. For me, patrolling is both the most challenging and rewarding duty as it can present an array of situations. Although I didn’t get a chance to see turtles nesting, I had spotted fresh tracks from females that had emerged from the water to nest, but had returned to the sea without nesting for unknown circumstances, as well as coming across the tracks of both turtles and humans. The tracks from both these sources meant only one thing, the female had been poached during her most vulnerable stage. A fellow patroller and I followed the tracks, but to no avail, she had been taken and systematically slaughtered the same day. The reality of this event only reinforced my reason for being here; I did not want to see another turtle vanish from the beach at the hands of a poacher.

It is my hope that my involvement as a crew member on Operation Pacuare will have a positive impact towards bringing a rapid end to the illegal activities and exploitation that continues to befall the turtles, as well as having a positive effect on the local community, reinforcing that they’re not alone in this fight. I will return as long as I am able to continue to be a strong presence in defence of the turtles.

Operation Pacuare
Visit our
Operation Pacuare
site for more information.

Oct 23, 2014

Sea Shepherd Bay Islands Turtle Defense Campaign Saves 4,000 Hawksbill Sea Turtle Eggs

To protect the turtles from poachers, Sea Shepherd volunteers patrolled the nesting area on the northern side of the island nightlyTo protect the turtles from poachers, Sea Shepherd
volunteers patrolled the nesting area on
the northern side of the island nightly
Photo: Sea Shepherd
On June 16, 2014, Sea Shepherd Conservation Society Bay Islands and Bay Islands Conservation Association (BICA) launched a joint conservation project to protect the critically endangered hawksbill sea turtles on the Caribbean island of Utila, north of Honduras. Hawksbill sea turtles arrive on this small, fairly obscure island to nest on a yearly basis.

It is estimated that there are only 8,000 female hawksbill sea turtles remaining in the world. Therefore, there is an urgent need for extreme care and monitoring of this fragile population. Sea Shepherd Bay Islands is in the unique position of being responsible for protecting a percentage of the world’s breeding hawksbill females, documenting at least 14 tagged and four untagged breeding females that nest on private property in Utila.

While BICA, the local municipality represented by Mayor Troy Bodden, and the Honduran government, all have the best interests of the hawksbills at heart, they can only do so much to protect them due to a massive lack of funding at every level. It is not an overstatement to say that Sea Shepherd Bay Islands is on the frontlines in the fight for the hawksbills’ survival on Utila.

Until this recent campaign, these sea turtles would arrive onshore to poachers awaiting the opportunity to steal their eggs to be falsely sold as aphrodisiacs, and then killing the turtles for their meat and shells. However, with a regular volunteer presence during the nesting season lasting three months, not a single nest or turtle was captured or killed by poachers at this beach.

Given that the hawksbill turtle can nest two to three times per season, laying up to 200 eggs per nest, Sea Shepherd Bay Islands has protected approximately 4,000 hawksbill eggs, resulting in a documented count of 3,600 hatchlings getting a chance at life at sea without the threat of being poached. Unfortunately, the odds for survival certainly aren’t in favor of these hatchlings. The sobering fact is that only one out of 1,000 sea turtle hatchlings will reach breeding maturity, for a chance to contribute to propagating their species.

Hawksbill sea turtles lay up to 200 eggs per nestHawksbill sea turtles lay up to
200 eggs per nest
Photo: Sea Shepherd

Only one out of 1,000 sea turtle hatchlings will reach breeding maturityOnly one out of 1,000 sea turtle hatchlings
will reach breeding maturity
Photo: Sea Shepherd

Sea turtles often fall victim as bycatch in commercial fishing or to net or hook entanglement, along with the threats of poaching, and the illegal trade of their valuable eggs, meat and shells. Sadly, turtle meat and eggs are still part of the traditional Caribbean menu, despite being declared illegal by the Honduran government. Unfortunately, making it illegal to poach turtles, inadvertently creates a black market demand for them at the same time. Hawksbills in particular, are at even greater risk due to their comparatively thinner shell, which makes them easy prey for predators, and also highly sought after for use in jewelry throughout the Caribbean.

Unlike neighboring islands that have fallen to rampant and indiscriminate commercial development, most of Utila’s nesting areas are still virtually untouched. Due to the fact that the nesting females will unerringly and inevitably return to their natal beaches every two to three years, it is of utmost importance to keep these habitats protected for the species to have a chance at survival.

To protect the turtles from poachers, Sea Shepherd volunteers patrolled the nesting area on the northern side of the island nightly, searching for signs of any turtle activity and hiding tracks and nests along the way. Initially, poachers waited until the premises were clear to get to the nests. Unfortunately for them, the volunteers remained on site throughout the night until sunrise when all turtle activity stops, and they removed all markings leading to the location of the nests. Poacher presence in the area started decreasing after just the first month of our turtle defense campaign.

Poachers don’t want to risk the chance of being arrested. Volunteers would stay in contact with Utila’s municipal police, the Honduran National Police and the nearby Honduras Navy base in the event there were any incidents on patrol.

While nightly beach patrols in search of new nesting turtles officially ended in mid-September, volunteers continued to protect the existing nests throughout the remainder of the month, until all eggs hatched and the hatchlings made it to the water untouched.

During the turtle defense campaign, Sea Shepherd Bay Islands recruited and mobilized more than 150 volunteers to protect the hawksbill turtle. The safety of these endangered hawksbills and their offspring would not have been possible without the funding and organizational assistance from Sea Shepherd USA.

Approximately 4,000 hawksbill eggs were protected, resulting in a documented count of 3,600 hatchlings getting a chance at life at sea without the threat of being poachedApproximately 4,000 hawksbill eggs were protected thanks to volunteers patrolling the beach. This resulted in a documented count of 3,600 hatchlings getting a chance at life at sea without the threat of being poached
Photo: Sea Shepherd

Oct 19, 2014

Martin Sheen Unveils Sea Shepherd’s Newest Vessel, R/V Martin Sheen, Named in his Honor

Sea Shepherd and Sheen Announce New Marine Conservation Campaign Featuring the Research Vessel

UPDATE: Ship tours of the R/V Martin Sheen this weekend in San Diego, CA. To learn more, visit our event page at http://www.seashepherd.org/shiptours/

The R/V Martin Sheen sailing.  Photo: Sea Shepherd/Carolina A CastroThe R/V Martin Sheen sailing.
Photo: Sea Shepherd/Carolina A Castro
At a press conference held today in Marina del Rey, Calif., Sea Shepherd Conservation Society USA and long-time celebrity supporter Martin Sheen unveiled the newest vessel in Sea Shepherd’s fleet, the R/V Martin Sheen, named for the Golden Globe, Emmy and Screen Actors’ Guild awardee, and announced plans for an upcoming campaign to address the plastic pollution problem.

Attendees were welcomed by Sea Shepherd USA staff who explained that the name of this vessel would carry the prefix of R/V because it will be engaged in direct action of a different sort, as a research vessel. The crowd cheered when Sea Shepherd staff explained that unlike Japan’s so-called “research” whaling vessels, this ship will be engaged in legitimate and very important research — including documentation and investigation — much like the work Sea Shepherd has been doing with its colleagues at Ocean Alliance in the Gulf of Mexico in the wake of the Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill.

Captain Oona Layolle of France spoke to media and the assembled crowd. An experienced mariner and licensed Master 500, Layolle was at the helm of the vessel on its voyage from Hawaii to Los Angeles. She discussed the Sea Shepherd crew’s efforts to document and remove plastic from the ocean ecosystem on the way. Captain Layolle stated: “During our sail we collected water samples daily at three depths from the same position to measure the level of plastic particles in the water. What we confirmed with our sampling, data collection and observations is that even in highly remote locations, there is an infiltration of plastic debris, from large ghost nets to micro-plastics,” said Captain Layolle.

Later, Sea Shepherd USA staff announced the name of the vessel and Sea Shepherd flags were lifted to reveal its name, Martin Sheen, painted on the bow of the beautiful 80-foot ocean blue ketch.

Speaking next, Martin Sheen approached the bow of the vessel. Sheen, who sits on Sea Shepherd USA’s Media and Arts Advisory Board, is a longtime friend of Sea Shepherd Founder, Captain Paul Watson, and has joined Sea Shepherd and Captain Watson on the frontlines to defend ocean wildlife. Sheen shared some of his incredible history with the organization: “I have a long history of nearly 20 years supporting Sea Shepherd. In 1995, I was on campaign with Paul to try to protect baby harp seals from being clubbed in the Magdalen Islands. Paul, myself, and crew traveled to the Gulf of St. Lawrence. Before we could fly out to the seals on the ice floes, a mob of angry sealers invaded the Magdalen Islands hotel where Sea Shepherd was staying. They broke down doors to enter Paul’s room and attacked and beat him. The police intervened only to forcibly expel Paul from the Magdalens. The campaign received international media attention.”

Martin Sheen at the wheel of Sea Shepherd vessel, R/V Martin Sheen.  Photo: Sea Shepherd/Carolina A CastroMartin Sheen at the wheel of Sea Shepherd vessel, R/V Martin Sheen.
Photo: Sea Shepherd/Carolina A Castro
Sheen then announced the vessel bearing his name would play a critical role in starting to address the ever-present threats of plastic debris and why that is an environmental imperative. “If we fail to cleanup the plastic mess humans have made and stop the continued pollution of our oceans — the lungs of our planet — we face the potential extinction of many species of sea life and the disruption of the entire eco-system.”

It was then time to christen the ship. Tradition states that a woman must christen a ship for “good luck.” Therefore, Sheen asked Captain Layolle to do the honors as he enjoyed the celebratory smashing of the bottle against the bow of the ship alongside his name.

Sea Shepherd USA staff invited media and attendees onboard the R/V Martin Sheen to hear Captain Paul Watson speak remotely from overseas. He provided a brief campaign update and spoke about the work the R/V Martin Sheen will do. He also sent a special message to Sheen from another fellow Sea Shepherd celebrity supporter and long-time friend of Captain Watson, Brigitte Bardot. Captain Watson spoke about Bardot’s recent visit to the Sea Shepherd trimaran named in her honor while it was visiting France, and her joy at seeing the vessel in person for the first time. Watson said that Bardot sent her congratulations to Sheen, saying she remarked that it is an “honor” to have a Sea Shepherd ship bear one’s name.

On hand to welcome the new R/V Martin Sheen was The Simpsons co-creator and dedicated supporter, Sam Simon, who also has a Sea Shepherd vessel named in his honor that he purchased for the organization. Simon joined Sea Shepherd USA’s Cove Guardians in Taiji, Japan in February in defense of dolphins. Martin Sheen’s wife, Janet was also present at the press conference, along with many of the Sheen’s friends and family members.

Sea Shepherd Conservation Society USA, a leading nonprofit marine conservation organization, is at the forefront of the movement to defend ocean wildlife and habitats worldwide. The R/V Martin Sheen will be an important part of the organization’s direct action campaigns around the world, strengthening Sea Shepherd’s work to prevent the slaughter of ocean wildlife and destruction of marine ecosystems.

Martin Sheen ask Captain Oona Layolle to do the honors of christening the R/V Martin Sheen. Photo: Sea Shepherd/Carolina A CastroMartin Sheen asks Captain Oona Layolle to do the honors of christening the R/V Martin Sheen. Photo: Sea Shepherd/Carolina A Castro Martin Sheen with Captain Layolle and crew of the R/V Martin Sheen. Photo: Sea Shepherd/Carolina A CastroMartin Sheen with Captain Layolle and crew of the R/V Martin Sheen.
Photo: Sea Shepherd/Carolina A Castro

Oct 17, 2014

Award-Winning Actor Martin Sheen to Help Unveil and Christen Sea Shepherd’s Newest Ship in its Fleet, Announce New Campaign

Press Conference to Be Held at 10:30 AM PST Saturday Oct. 18 in Marina Del Rey, California

news-141017-1-2-mystery-ship-dimmed-358wA press conference to unveil the newest ship in the Sea Shepherd fleet will be held the morning of Saturday, October 18th in Marina del Rey, Calif. by Sea Shepherd Conservation Society USA, featuring long-time celebrity supporter and award-winning actor Martin Sheen who has campaigned with the non-profit organization in defense of ocean wildlife. Sheen will speak to media, christen the new ship and announce its name. Sea Shepherd will also announce an upcoming marine conservation campaign in which the new vessel will be used.

The ship, which recently voyaged to California from Hawaii, has already been engaged in work to protect the marine ecosystem and ocean wildlife. Sea Shepherd will discuss these efforts and show a destructive fishing driftnet that was removed from the ocean by the crew.

Sheen is a devoted supporter of Sea Shepherd and long-time friend of Sea Shepherd Founder, Captain Paul Watson. A Golden Globe, Emmy and Screen Actors’ Guild award-winning actor and acclaimed star of television, film and stage, he is also a dedicated activist for environmental, human and animal rights causes. He has joined Sea Shepherd and Captain Watson on campaign, including opposing the brutal seal hunts in Canada. He sits on Sea Shepherd USA’s Media and Arts Advisory Board.

Speakers at the press conference will include:

  • Captain Oona Layolle, veteran of five Sea Shepherd campaigns

  • Martin Sheen, award-winning actor & activist
  • Captain Paul Watson, Sea Shepherd Founder (via Skype)



If you are a member of the media and you’d like credentials to this Los Angeles area event, contact media@seashepherd.org

Sea Shepherd Founder, Captain Paul Watson with Martin SheenSea Shepherd Founder, Captain Paul Watson with Martin Sheen
Photo: Sea Shepherd

Oct 13, 2014

Report from the Field: Operation Pacuare

Sea Shepherd volunteers and a local from Pacuare Beach remove Green sea turtle eggs from the nest for relocationSea Shepherd volunteers and a local from Pacuare Beach remove Green sea turtle eggs from the nest for relocation
Photo: Sea Shepherd
Operation Pacuare
continues to make a strong presence in Costa Rica’s Limon province with nightly patrols in search of nesting sea turtles on Pacuare Beach. October has already proven to be a busy month for volunteers defending nesting sea turtles. The eggs from the nests found on the beach are relocated to a secure hatchery, where they incubate until they hatch. Volunteers then release the hatchlings to start their new lives in the ocean.

For the first five days of October, 156 sea turtle hatchlings, including 65 critically endangered hawksbill and 91 endangered green sea turtles, were all released to the sea. They represent lives that were saved from poachers, and are given the opportunity to swim freely in the oceans.

On October 6th, Sea Shepherd volunteers were able to save 151 endangered green sea turtle eggs from the destructive hands of poachers, and release 13 green sea turtle hatchlings into the ocean. As Sea Shepherd volunteers patrolled Pacuare Beach, they encountered a green sea turtle as she was camouflaging her nest in the beach berm. The volunteers kept a watchful eye over her as she finished the completion of her nest, being careful not to disturb the turtle. Once she was done, the volunteers removed 151 eggs from the nest, and relocated them to a hatchery for safekeeping during incubation.

The Green sea turtle eggs are removed from the nest for relocation to the hatcheryThe Green sea turtle eggs are removed from the nest for relocation to the hatchery
Photo: Sea Shepherd
Shortly after these eggs arrived and were securely placed in the hatchery, 13 green sea turtle hatchlings emerged from a separate nest. Each hatchling was weighed and measured for research, before they were returned to the beach. Once released, the hatchlings made their way to their rightful home in the ocean.

On October 8th, just two nights later, the tracks of a green sea turtle were spotted coming from the ocean, without any return tracks. Presumably, poachers had spotted her after she laid her eggs and began her journey back to the ocean. Quickly, the poachers removed the eggs from the nest, which would be falsely sold as aphrodisiacs, and dragged the turtle into the woods to slaughter her for meat

As the sun set and night settled in on October 9th, 238 green sea turtle hatchlings emerged from three different nests in the hatchery. The first, a nest of 103 hatchlings emerged at the start of the night, while 14 hatchlings emerged from a second just minutes later. Some of the newly emerged green sea turtle hatchlings were weighed and measured, and then immediately released to the ocean. Hours later, a third nest of green sea turtle hatchlings emerged. Eager to begin their new lives, the 121 turtles all scurried to the sea for the first time.

A Green sea turtle’s length is measure before release into the oceanA Green sea turtle’s length is measure before release into the ocean
Photo: Sea Shepherd
On October 10th, 95 newly laid green sea turtle eggs were saved from poachers. Our volunteer patrol came upon the nest just after the mother had finished laying her eggs, leaving only her fresh tracks as an indication that she had been there at all. After finding her camouflaged nest, the eggs were removed and transported to a hatchery. There, the eggs will safely incubate under the watchful eyes of volunteers until they hatch

In the first ten days of October, 246 green sea turtle eggs were saved from poachers, while 65 hawksbill and 592 green sea turtle hatchlings that were previously saved, were released into the ocean.

The nesting season for sea turtles will continue until the end of October (mainly green sea turtles at this time). Sea Shepherd’s Operation Pacuare will ensure that volunteers are present on the beach nightly to save sea turtles and their eggs as they nest.

During the night, a Green sea turtle hatchling makes his/her way to the oceanDuring the night, a Green sea turtle hatchling makes his/her way to the ocean
Photo: Sea Shepherd

A Green sea turtle just after he/she emerged from its nest at the hatcheryA Green sea turtle just after he/she emerged from its nest at the hatchery
Photo: Sea Shepherd

Oct 08, 2014

Cabo Verde – Raso Island

Commentary by Simon Ager

Cabo Verde geckoCabo Verde gecko
Photo: Sea Shepherd / Simon Ager
Raso Island is a stratovolcano. There is little vegetation here; the entire coastline is made up of rocky cliffs. The mountains reach some 130 meters above sea level. It is every bit as spectacular as Santa Luzia!

The geographical isolation of Cabo Verde has resulted in a large number of endemic bird species. Now, the only home of the critically endangered Raso lark, breeding pairs of Cabo Verde shearwaters, red-billed tropicbirds, brown boobys and Lago sparrows. It is also one of two islands where the Cabo Verde giant skink and gecko still survive.

Having set up a second base camp on the uninhabited island of Raso some weeks ago, and a team in place on Santa Luzia protecting the turtles, we are assisting the biologists with monitoring 120 shearwater nests as part of a scientific study and acting as a poaching deterrent for the chicks. Thousands of shearwater chicks were once hunted and killed every year as a food source decimating the populations of Rasos and Brancos.

By highlighting the importance of the species, and working with and educating local communities, especially fishermen, poaching numbers have dramatically fallen.

Basecamp on Raso IslandBasecamp on Raso Island
Photo: Sea Shepherd / Simon Ager
A group of Portuguese biologists are also here studying the Lago sparrow comparing its evolution to the Galapagos chaffinch, which physically evolved to survive the different environment and resources on each island in Galapagos.

Our time is spent moving between two locations every other day: one close to our basecamp and the second, a one-and-a-half hour trek through the mountains to a camp nestled in a canyon overlooking the island of Sao Nicolau. We arrive just before sundown, checking the marked cliff hollows along the way for chicks.

Settling in for the night, we eat biscuits smothered in marmalade and drink tea made from a shrub found on the island. With nothing more than a sleeping bag on the rocky ground, we sleep under the stars. With no light pollution the heavens are magnificent!

As the sun drops into the ocean through the serenity, geckos begin to chirp feverously into the early hours; male shearwaters join the choir leaving the nests for the ocean to feed.

Daring not to sit up at this time, silhouette in the moonlight, shearwaters swoop in at high speeds through the canyon mere feet above your head, the rush of air clearly audible. An amazing experience! Yet, unfortunately, some birds are not so lucky meeting their fate at high speed, we find remains of birds that have flown head-on into the rock face.

The geckos know no fear of man; feeling them scurry over your sleeping bag throughout the night is no surprise.

The serenity finally returns just before sunup, and we return to the nests we surveyed the previous night.

Cabo Verde giant skinkCabo Verde giant skink
Photo: Sea Shepherd / Simon Ager
Reaching into the darkness of a rocky hollow no bigger than your fist and shoulder deep, feeling for a chick that is less than amused at being extracted from its nest, involves being enthusiastically pecked by a large gray fur ball with a beak. The chicks are tagged, measured and weighed before being returned carefully to the rocky hollow. Each night, one of the parents will come to the nest to feed the chick, which may nearly double its weight in one week.

Watching the birds mature week by week, the adult plumage replaces the gray fluff. The first two weeks in November will see the adolescent birds take flight and migrate great distances, with sightings off the coast of mainland Africa in Senegalese waters. The birds stay at sea until the next breeding season.

We will continue a presence in the islands of Santa Luzia and Raso along with the scientists until the end of November.

The islands of Cabo Verde continue to amaze. Declaring the country a marine sanctuary, eco-tourism could save this stunning country from foreign interests that look to decimate the biodiversity in the name of short-term gain. It’s not to late.

Cabo Verde could very well be the jewel of Africa!

Oct 07, 2014

Report from the Field: Operation Pacuare

Sea Shepherd volunteers patrol Pacuare Beach in search of sea turtle nestsSea Shepherd volunteers patrol Pacuare Beach
in search of sea turtle nests
Photo: Sea Shepherd
On August 15, 2014, Sea Shepherd launched Operation Pacuare to protect endangered leatherback and green sea turtles, and the critically endangered hawksbill sea turtle, from poachers as they come to nest on Costa Rica's Pacuare Beach.

These poachers, who hail from Pacuare Beach as well as throughout Costa Rica, scour the beach each night looking for both sea turtle eggs and the turtles themselves as they come ashore to nest. The eggs - falsely believed to be an aphrodisiac - are eaten, while the adult sea turtles are killed for human consumption.

To directly prevent the sea turtles from falling into the hands of poachers, volunteers from Sea Shepherd and Latin American Sea Turtle Association (LAST) - a member of WIDECAST - as well as local patrol leaders hired by Sea Shepherd, walk the beach every night in search of turtles that have nested. Once a nest is found, the eggs of the endangered turtles are moved to a hatchery, where they will be continuously guarded until they hatch. The baby turtles are then released safely into the ocean.

September is part of the low-season, with fewer turtles coming to nest; however, our patrols have saved seven turtle nests thus far - preventing 125 hawksbill and 689 green sea turtle eggs from illegally landing into the hands of poachers.

On September 8th, Sea Shepherd was able to save an adult green sea turtle from a poacher's deathly grip. The turtle had been flipped on her back, rendering her immobile. Before the poacher could return, however, Sea Shepherd volunteers discovered the turtle. The Costa Rican Coast Guard was called and the turtle was guarded until the authorities arrived. This lucky green sea turtle was then carefully turned upright and returned to her ocean home unharmed.

A Green sea turtle was found on her back awaiting slaughter before she was found and saved by Sea Shepherd volunteersA green sea turtle was found on her back awaiting slaughter before she was found and saved by Sea Shepherd volunteers
Photo: Sea Shepherd
Despite our diligent efforts to save every sea turtle who comes to nest, on September 30th, as we patrolled Pacuare Beach alongside a former local poacher, tracks of a green sea turtle were found with the footprints of poachers that told the sad story of how she was taken from the beach. As the turtle emerged from the ocean, poachers spotted her immediately. The poachers then followed her up the beach, and as she began to dig her nest, she was flipped onto her back, tied upside down to a pole, and carried into the woods. Away from the footprints in the sand, the sea turtle's fate turned deadly - she was butchered for her meat and gutted for her eggs.

Locally there are poachers living on Pacuare Beach. However, there are also many residents who are committed to the survival of the endangered sea turtles. In addition to nightly patrols looking for nesting turtles, Sea Shepherd has been working with locals to patrol the beach. Sea Shepherd has also hired a local cook, and will work with the community on initiatives such as the creation of a recycling center to keep the beach clean, and delivering school supplies to the local school while presenting a lesson on the importance of turtle conservation.

The nesting season continues until November 1st, and Sea Shepherd and LAST volunteers will continue to patrol the beach each night until that time, drawing a line in the sand between the endangered sea turtles and their poachers.

After incubation in the hatchery, a Green sea turtle enters the ocean for the first timeAfter incubation in the hatchery, a Green sea turtle enters the ocean for the first time
Photo: Sea Shepherd

Oct 01, 2014

Environmental Public Civil Action Against Fishing Company Dom Matos for Fishing Endangered Sharks Has a New Hearing in Rio Grande/RS

Wendell Estol & Luiz André Albuquerque in front of the Federal Court of Rio Grande, BrazilWendell Estol & Luiz André Albuquerque
in front of the Federal Court of Rio Grande, Brazil
Photo: Sea Shepherd Brazil
On August 21st, Wendell Estol, Sea Shepherd Brazil Director, and Luiz André Albuquerque, attorney for Sea Shepherd Brazil, attended another hearing at the Federal Court of Rio Grande/RS on the environmental public civil action filed on May 18th, 2009 by the Brazilian Institute of Environment and Renewable Natural Resources (IBAMA) against the fishing company Dom Matos, due to the assessment of 3.3 tons of illegally obtained shark fins. Sea Shepherd Brazil and the South Coast Institute (Instituto Litoral Sul) in Santa Vitória do Palmar/RS are assisting IBAMA in this action.

The hearing was called to receive testimony of the witness Carolus Maria Vooren, PhD, a professor at the Federal University of Rio Grande (FURG) and one of the founders of the Brazilian Society for the Study of Elasmobranchs (SBEEL).

Carolus Maria Vooren at the hearing.Carolus Maria Vooren at the hearing.
Photo: Sea Shepherd Brazil
During the hearing, Professor Vooren recalled going to the IBAMA office to participate in the procedure of identification of the shark species from which the fins were taken — narrow-nose smooth-hound shark, Brazilian guitarfish and angel shark — and specified that these species found in the seizure are routinely captured by commercial fishing. When asked by the representative of the Federal Public Ministry to explain the harmfulness of catching these endangered sharks, he pointed out that this was of great environmental damage. According to studies conducted between 1985 and 2002, these shark species had declined at the rate of 85% and this was one of the reasons why these species were included in the List of Endangered Species (Index II of Instruction nº05 / 2004 IBAMA).

He added to his testimony, stating that "continued overfishing will aggravate the situation of these species and Brazil will lose this natural heritage."

According to the technical report submitted at the time of admission of the lawsuit, given the number of fins, it is estimated that approximately 36,000 specimens had been slaughtered.

Sea Shepherd Brazil encourages the Brazilian justice system to levy the strongest possible consequences against Dom Matos and awaits the punishment of the guilty parties.

Shark fins seized at the time of the action.Illegally obtained shark fins from the 3.3 tons confiscated by IBAMA

Shark fins seized at the time of the action.Illegally obtained shark fins from the 3.3 tons confiscated by IBAMA

Shark fins seized at the time of the action. Illegally obtained shark fins from the 3.3 tons confiscated by IBAMA
Photos: Gerson Pataleão

On May 7th, 2009, Sea Shepherd Brazil and the South Coast Institute joined together for an environmental civil action against the same fishing company, Dom Matos, working in support of IBAMA.

Since April 2008, Sea Shepherd Brazil has conducted an ongoing awareness campaign in defense of sharks, along with efforts to monitor and investigate companies that have caused irreversible damage to elasmobranchs populations in Brazil, and helping to bring those companies to justice. Annually, more than 100 million sharks are killed globally, which has caused some shark populations to decline by more than 90%.

In Brazil, about 43% of shark species are threatened with extinction. At this current rate, many species will be extinct in less than ten years.