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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 Offers Free Ship Tours On May 7 and 8 in San Diego
Sea Shepherd Conservation Society, the leading direct-action marine conservation non-profit, will hold public ship tours of its two vessels, the R/V Martin Sheen and M/V Farley Mowat, on Saturday, May 7 and Sunday, May 8 in San Diego.
On these dates, tours of the Martin Sheen and Farley Mowat will be free and open to the public from 9:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m. local time each day at 1492 N Harbor Dr., San Diego, CA 92101 (north of the San Diego Maritime Museum). In addition to providing tours of both vessels, Sea Shepherd crew will share information about the organization’s work to defend ocean wildlife and habitats worldwide, along with their first-hand experiences as crewmembers. Sea Shepherd will also accept much-needed donations to fund the organization’s wildlife missions.
John Paul Mitchell Systems will be on-hand at the event, offering a $5 braid bar and style lounge for guests on May 7 only from 10:00 a.m. – 3:00 p.m., with proceeds benefitting Sea Shepherd. Attendees can also purchase Sea Shepherd merchandise at the event.
Both ships recently returned from a mission in the Gulf of California, aimed at saving the critically endangered vaquita porpoise. The R/V Martin Sheen is a 92-foot sailing ketch acquired in Los Angeles in 2014 and named for long-time celebrity supporter, Martin Sheen. The R/V Martin Sheen has been conducting a combination of research, education and anti-poaching work for the last year. The boat left Los Angeles in 2015 to begin Operation Milagro in Mexico’s Gulf of California, working in partnership with the Mexican Navy to protect the critically endangered vaquita porpoise.
At the end of the fishing season, the Martin Sheen moved to Costa Rica and Cocos Island before moving back to the Gulf of California where it has just completed Operation Milagro II. The Martin Sheen will visit the coast of British Columbia during the summer of 2016 to undertake a campaign to protect wild salmon and to oppose the destruction caused by domestic salmon farms. In addition to this work, the R/V Martin Sheen has been involved in an ethical research whale project, dedicated to collecting samples from whales to measure the levels of toxins in the Gulf of California.
The M/V Farley Mowat is a 110-foot former Coast Guard Cutter, purchased from the U.S. government in 2015. John Paul DeJoria is a longtime supporter and dear friend of Sea Shepherd (also the co-founder of John Paul Mitchell Systems, which is recognized for making professional salon beauty products and its commitment to the professional beauty industry). DeJoria supports charities that promote environmental sustainability, social responsibility and the protection of animals. DeJoria generously sponsored the purchase of the M/V Farley Mowat, also made possible with a bequest left to Sea Shepherd by Sea Shepherd International Chair and famed Canadian writer and environmentalist Farley Mowat, who passed away in 2014.
The Farley Mowat was outfitted as a high speed anti-poaching patrol boat. The vessel was recently working with the Martin Sheen on Operation Milagro II in Mexico. The vessel will now move to Costa Rica to continue anti-poaching work at Cocos Island. The Farley Mowat recently saved the life of a Humpback whale, found entangled in a gillnet in the Gulf of California.
The crew of the Martin Sheen and Farley Mowat look forward to sharing this and other important conservation information at the ship tours in San Diego on May 7 and 8. Those who are unable to visit the ship but would like to help can Donate or Shop to Support.
Sea Shepherd Offers Reward to Stop Attacks On Monk Seals in Hawaii
The Sea Shepherd Conservation Society is offering a $5,000 reward for any information leading to the arrest and conviction of any person or person killing or inflicting injury on any monk seal. There is an extra $5,000 reward for any information that includes video evidence of an attack by a human being on a monk seal.
To report an attack on a Monk seal, contact NOAA Fisheries Enforcement Hotline at 1-800-853-1964.
To report a marine mammal in danger on Kauai, call the Kauai Marine Mammal Response Hotline at 651-7668.
Sea Shepherd Conservation Society joins with marine scientists to study the effects of microplastics on whales in the Gulf of California.
by Oona Layolle, Captain/Campaign Leader
In Sea Shepherd Conservation Society’s latest scientific research campaign, we are studying the toxicology levels in whales in the Gulf of California. We are working with marine scientists from the Universidad de Baja California Sur, Italy and United State of America to conduct the first studies regarding the toxicology of microplastics and pollution in the Gulf of California.
The campaign is focused on both legitimate and ethical research. It directly confronts those scientists, and those who call themselves scientists, who are more concerned with destroying life and ecosystems than with helping increase scientific knowledge. Sea Shepherd Conservation Society only supports studies that utilize nonlethal methods for collection and using data, that is, studies that best protect this planet.
The current research expedition in the Gulf of California will be used to determine the level of contamination produced by microplastics and other contaminants in the Gulf of California and will contribute to studying the ways in which humans have polluted the oceans. A database is being developed to determine the levels of contamination in the whales and how those levels of contamination influence the whales’ genetics. Some of the whales, such as fin whales, are residents of the Gulf of California. That means that all the contaminates of the pollution found in these whales will directly reflect the pollution in the Gulf.
Our research vessel, R/V Martin Sheen, and her crew are collaborating with the scientists to complete this research expedition. We all must strive to learn how to best care for and protect life on this planet so we can live in a healthy environment and preserve the Earth for future generations. We must stop destroying our the planet. It is essential to become educated as to the state of the ecosystems. This research campaign will help achieve that as the study will help us to understand the environment so we can change our destructive habits and apply new laws for the protection of the environment.
Sea Shepherd Conservation Society Hosts A Legal Forum On Marine Wildlife Law Enforcement In Galapagos
first case ever reaching a guilty verdict on shark poaching in the Galapagos. Four panelists of top level addressed the challenges of prosecuting marine environmental crimes in the Galapagos Marine Reserve. Panelists provided an interdisciplinary approach. The panel included representatives of the General Prosecution Office (Fiscalía del Ecuador) and the Galapagos National Park, who shared their experience in prosecuting the shark case.On April 14, 2016, the Galapagos office of SSCS hosted a legal forum on criminal law and the protection of marine wildlife. It focused on the
At the forum, five topics were highlighted: a) the importance of sharks to keep the balance in a marine ecosystem; b) the emerging role of criminal law and institutions to protect marine wildlife; c) the importance of technical evidence in prosecuting environmental crimes; d) the effective application of rights to nature in Galapagos; and, e) the role of the community and civil society in law enforcement.
The forum was organized with the support of the Human Rights Center of PUCE. It was held in Quito, the capital city of Ecuador. 107 attendants joined the forum, a significant number that reflects the growing interest of this issue in the legal community, especially among the new generations of law students.
For Sea Shepherd Conservation Society, Galapagos has always been humanity’s line in the sand. The protection of the islands and their extraordinary marine reserve is extremely important. As Sea Shepherd’s Founder Captain Paul Watson has said, Galapagos ¨is a very sacred place¨.
Sea Shepherd Conservation Society would like to thank the Dean of the Law Faculty of Pontificia Universidad Católica del Ecuador (PUCE), Dr. Íñigo Salvador. It would also like to thank the coordinator and staff of the Human Rights Center of PUCE. Special thanks are extended to the panelists Mario Melo (PUCE), Godfrey Merlen (SSCS), Silvia Castro (FGE) and Pablo López (DPNG), for their participation in this effort to expand the environmental rule of law to marine ecosystems.
El 14 de abril de 2016, la oficina de Galápagos de SSCS organizó un foro sobre el derecho penal y la protección de la vida silvestre. El foro enfatizó la primera causa judicial en lograr una sentencia condenatoria por captura ilícita de tiburones en la Reserva Marina de Galápagos. Cuatro panelistas de alto nivel analizaron los desafíos del procesamiento de delitos ambientales ocurridos en la Reserva Marina de Galápagos. Los panelistas aportaron una perspectiva interdisciplinaria al tema. El panel incluyó a representantes de la Fiscalía General del Estado y de la Dirección del Parque Nacional Galápagos, quienes compartieron sus experiencias en el procesamiento de la causa judicial.
En el foro destacaron cinco aspectos: a) la importancia de los tiburones para el equilibrio del ecosistema marina; b) el emergente papel del derecho penal en la protección de la vida silvestre marina; c) la importancia de la prueba técnica en el procesamiento de delitos ambientales; d) la efectiva aplicación de los derechos de la naturaleza en Galápagos; y, d) el papel de la comunidad y la sociedad civil en la aplicación del derecho ambiental.
El foro fue organizado con el apoyo del Centro de Derechos Humanos de la PUCE. Se realizó en Quito, capital de Ecuador. 107 personas asistieron al evento, lo cual refleja el creciente interés sobre estos temas, especialmente entre las nuevas generaciones de estudiantes de derecho.
Para Sea Shepherd Conservation Society, Galápagos es la ‘línea en la arena de la humanidad’. La protección de las islas y su extraordinaria biodiversidad es muy importante. El fundador de la organización, Capitán Paul Watson, ha dicho que Galápagos es ¨un lugar sagrado¨.
Sea Shepherd Conservation Society agradece al señor Decano de la Facultad de Jurisprudencia de la Pontificia Universidad Católica del Ecuador (PUCE), Doctor Íñigo Salvador, por abrir las puertas de la Facultad para este evento. También se agradece al Coordinador y al equipo del Centro de Derechos Humanos de la PUCE, por su apoyo integral a la organización del foro. Un agradecimiento especial se extiende a los panelistas Mario Melo (PUCE), Godfrey Merlen (SSCS), Silvia Castro (FGE) y Pablo López (DPNG), por su participación en este esfuerzo de expandir la aplicación de la ley ambiental a los ecosistemas marinos.
Experts Spot Three Live Vaquitas
SAN FELIPE, BAJA CALIFORNIA MEXICO – From April 11 to 14, 2016, Sea Shepherd Conservation Society's patrol vessel the M/Y Farley Mowat was honored to host Drs. Barbara Taylor and Jay Barlow, two vaquita experts from the Society for Marine Mammology. The scientists used the latest data from a network of buoys that listen for vaquita echolocation clicks to chart a course through the vaquita refuge to create the best opportunity to spot the elusive, critically endangered marine mammals.
Equipped with binoculars and an abundance of patience, the two marine biologists positioned themselves on the fly bridge of the M/Y Farley Mowat and scanned the horizon for hours each day. M/Y Farley Mowat crew members joined in these vaquita patrols. At 8:40 AM on April 12, 2016, less than three hours into the first full day of searching, Drs. Taylor and Barlow spotted a vaquita. As per their instructions, the M/Y Farley Mowat was turned in the direction of the sighting and put into neutral. Vaquitas are usually spotted alone or in pairs, but the presence of one can mean that others are within binocular sight as well. Just a few hours later, at 11:30 AM on April 12, 2016, a second vaquita was spotted. The scientists hoped to spot a mother and calf, but it was another solitary vaquita.
"Every time I see a live vaquita it buoys my hope for the species. Seeing them so close to where Sea Shepherd and the Mexican Navy have been pulling illegal nets makes the critical need for this guardianship obvious," said vaquita expert Dr. Barbara Taylor. On April 13, 2016, in the southern part of the vaquita refuge, Drs. Taylor and Barlow spotted the third vaquita of their trip on the Sea Shepherd ship.
"It was great to find three live vaquitas so soon after three others were killed in gillnet,” commented Dr. Jay Barlow. “It was, however, worrying that all our sightings were so close to areas of active, illegal fishing.”
These recent vaquita sightings from the Farley Mowat make for a total of four encounters with the endangered porpoise on Sea Shepherd ships since April 2015. Captain Woody Henderson, captain of the M/Y Farley Mowat, commented, "It was inspiring having Drs. Taylor and Barlow on board with us and it was wonderful to learn more of the scientific community's efforts to protect the vaquita. The whole crew felt a renewed sense of energy after having these vaquita experts share their knowledge and sightings of three live vaquitas.”
On May 9, 2016, an international group of scientists with the Comite Internacional para la Recuperacion de la Vaquita (CIRVA) will release a new estimate of the vaquita population after taking into account the latest acoustic and visual observations carried out by scientists on severalweek surveys. The last time CIRVA released an estimate was in 2014 and they concluded that only 97 individuals remained.
Operation Milagro II is Sea Shepherd Conservation Society's ongoing campaign to protect the vaquita porpoise from extinction. Patrolling and removing illegal nets with the authorization of the Mexican Government and working in cooperation with the Mexican Navy, the R/V Martin Sheen and M/Y Farley Mowat have saved whales, rays, and fish, all while protecting the vaquita and its habitat. Since January 2016, Sea Shepherd has removed 40 illegal gillnets and 13 illegal longlines from the Gulf of California.
Sea Shepherd Makes Waves This Earth Day
SEATTLE – April 18, 2016 – Sea Shepherd Conservation Society has launched an Earth Day campaign that it expects to send a wave across social media throughout the week of Earth Day.
To celebrate the importance of protecting our oceans, Sea Shepherd has set a challenge to "make waves" across social media and engage networks of friends across the globe to defend, conserve and protect our oceans.
The “make waves” campaign encourages fans to post a selfie or group photo, waving for our oceans. This gesture will create a global wave of interest across social media to represent the power of the ocean and its importance on the planet. Fans will also be encouraged to spread the wave by nominating friends to continue the chain around the world. Fans should post the following messages on social media outlets, to participate:
Facebook: Let's stop killing our seas and make a global #SeaShepherdWave this Earth Day to defend, conserve and protect our oceans.
I nominate (tag friends or businesses here) to share a selfie or group photo, waving for our oceans. I also encourage you to donate and fund vital Sea Shepherd Conservation Society missions to protect our oceans and marine wildlife. Sea Shepherd braves the waves of our seas every day so let's send this wave around the globe to show support of protecting our oceans! Donate here: http://bit.ly/SeaShepherdWave.
Twitter: Let's make a #SeaShepherdWave this #EarthDay. Here's my wave... share yours & donate! http://bit.ly/SeaShepherdWave
Sea Shepherd founder Captain Paul Watson said, “The oceans of the world hold over 96% of all the Earth's water and it is our duty to defend, conserve and protect such a precious part of this planet and the marine life that call our oceans, home. To do this, Sea Shepherd has had to make a few waves over the years. If our oceans die, we all die so Sea Shepherd does not sit quietly on the sidelines. We take direct action to save marine wildlife and our oceans.”
The social media campaign launches April 18th and will run through Earth Day on April 22nd.
Captain Watson added, “This simple salutation of a wave is a universal greeting and also plays on the power of the waves of the ocean which connects countries across the Earth.”
Any funds raised from the Earth Day campaign will go to fund the organization’s vital missions to save our oceans and marine wildlife. Sea Shepherd continues to combat illegal fishing, over-fishing, whaling, sealing, dolphin killing, plastic pollution and preventing the destruction of coral reefs and other oceanic ecosystems.
The organization is currently involved with several campaigns around the globe. Operation Milagro in the Gulf of California is underway to protect the endangered vaquita porpoise, while Sea Shepherd also develops campaigns to protect marine reserves in the Caribbean and the West Coast of Latin America. Sea Shepherd will continue efforts to protect the marine reserves of the Galapagos and intends to address the plight of wild salmon off the coast of British Columbia, while also protecting sea turtles through Operation Jairo. In addition, Sea Shepherd will continue its opposition to the illegal slaughter of pilot whales and dolphins in the Faroe Islands, the slaughter of dolphins in Japan, the Canadian seal hunt and illegal whaling and fishing wherever Sea Shepherd is needed. The organization will additionally focus on campaigns to free captive Orcas and dolphins from captivity.
For more information, fans can visit the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society website on April 18th or the organization’s Facebook page at www.facebook.com/seashepherdconservationsociety to help spread a wave of awareness across social media.
Join the Direct Action Crew
Totoaba Poachers Caught On Camera
SAN FELIPE, BAJA CALIFORNIA MEXICO – On April 15, 2016 at 0053 hrs, Sea Shepherd Conservation Society captured never before seen footage of totoaba poachers caught in the act of pulling in their gillnet.
That night, the M/Y Farley Mowat hid in the darkness looking for illegal activity. After identifying the panga on radar, Sea Shepherd used Predator, a quadcopter drone equipped with a FLIR thermal night vision camera. Within minutes, Predator was above the poachers, documenting their illegal activities. The poachers quickly began to flee, pushing the illegal gillnet back into the water and speeding away from the scene of the crime. The M/Y Farley Mowat continued to track the poachers via the drone while relaying the coordinates and headings to the Mexican Navy.
With the chase handed over to the Mexican Navy, the Sea Shepherd crew commenced its search for the illegal gillnet. The custom designed netsnagging device was deployed off the stern and the small boat was launched. The net was located a couple of hours later and the crew began removing it from the water, freeing four live cownosed rays. Sadly the net had already claimed the lives of two juvenile hammerhead sharks and a couple of corvina fish.
“Using our night vision drone, Sea Shepherd was able to capture never before seen footage of totoaba poachers operating under the cover of darkness,” stated Roy Sasano, Executive Officer and Drone Pilot from Canada. “Now the poachers know they cannot act with impunity.” In January 2016, Sea Shepherd Conservation Society was granted the authority by the Mexican Government to remove illegal gillnets in the Gulf of California. Since then, Sea Shepherd has removed forty gillnets, saving untold numbers of vaquita, totoaba, whales, sharks, dolphins, and other marine wildlife.
Sea Shepherd Conservation Society launched Operation Milagro II in November 2015 with the objective of stopping the extinction of the endangered vaquita porpoise. The vaquita are the smallest cetaceans and only inhabit the northernmost part of the Gulf of California. They are the most endangered marine mammal in the world, with the population suspected to be only a few dozen individuals. Although all gillnets are dangerous for vaquita, the greatest threat is posed by the gillnets used to catch the totoaba fish due to the size of the mesh. As a similar sized animal, vaquita who swim into these gillnets become entangled and drown. Both the totoaba and vaquita are listed as critically endangered and are protected in Mexico. However, the black market trade in totoaba swim bladders drives the poaching of the fish and is driving the extinction of the vaquita porpoise. In an effort to save the vaquita, in April 2015, the Mexican Government enacted a two year ban on the use of gillnets in a 13,000 square kilometer area covering a large portion of the northern Gulf of California.
Gillnets Claim Another Humpback
While patrolling for illegal nets in the northeast corner of the Gulf of California, just south of Santa Clara, the crew of the Farley Mowat spotted a strange shape on the beach. The small boat was dispatched to investigate and soon relayed their findings. Sadly, it was a dead humpback whale. It's exact position was 31 34.596' N, 114 18.982' W.
"As soon as we approached the body of the whale, it was evident that he probably died of something other than natural causes," said crew member Benjamin Sawicki, a biologist by training who led the examination. Not only were there abrasions across flippers and the tail, there was even a small piece of net hanging from a barnacle on the whale's nose. Photographs were taken of the various injuries, brought back to the ship, and shared with marine mammal scientists who agreed that there were clear signs of entanglement. The whale's location was reported to the Mexican authorities.
Sheila Hanney, Chief Cook on the Farley Mowat, felt "it was such a tragedy to see this young humpback who most likely died in fishing gear, just over a month after we saved an adult humpback from the very same fate."
This makes for two humpback whales and three vaquita dophin deaths since December 2015 that can be directly attributed to entanglement in fishing gear. "This latest death shows how important our work here is. We will continue patrolling and fighting side-by-side with the Mexican Navy and authorities to stop illegal fishing and better protect all species in the Gulf of California, especially the critically endangered vaquita," said Farley Mowat Captain Woody Henderson.
From across the Gulf of California, the citizens of San Felipe were saddened to see a different dead whale float past their boardwalk. It's still unclear where and why that whale died, but that's two dead whales discovered in one day.
The Farley Mowat first joined the sailing ship Martin Sheen on Operation Milagro II in mid January. Since then it has been crisscrossing the waters and removing any illegal fishing gear in its path, especially the illegal gill nets used to catch the endangered totoaba fish. Only the swim bladders are removed from the totoaba and then smuggled and sold in Asian markets. Not only is this trade dangerous for the totoaba, but many vaquita become unintended victims in these hidden nets. The goal of Operation Milagro II is to protect the few remaining vaquita who inhabit these waters.
all photos: Ognjen Milovic