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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

Jan 27, 2016

Greenpeace Has Gone Over to the Dark Side With Their Endorsement For the Sealing Industry

Commentary by Captain Paul Watson

Canadian fur sealGreenpeace has now crossed the line with their endorsement of seal fur as "sustainable."

I initiated and led the first Greenpeace campaigns against sealing from 1975 until 1977. I really never thought I would see the day when Greenpeace would sell out to the sealing industry.

Jon Burgwald speaking for Greenpeace has announced that Greenpeace supports "sustainable" sealing.

There is no such thing. Seals are threatened by rapidly diminishing fish populations and pollution. Our Ocean is dying and Greenpeace seems to be in abject denial of this reality. We need seals to help maintain a healthy marine eco-system.

Greenpeace is now playing into the hands of the fur industry and the Canadian interest in marketing seal fur to China. The organization is now giving comfort to the seal butchers in supporting one of the most brutal and bloody mass massacres of wildlife on the planet.

As a co-founder of Greenpeace I feel sick and betrayed by this new policy flip-flop by Greenpeace.

How can any compassionate and caring person continue to support Greenpeace after this? What the hell are they thinking?

Greenpeace does not oppose the slaughter of pilot whales in the Faroes or the brutal massacre of dolphins in Taiji, Japan and now this. How long before Greenpeace endorses the illegal whaling operations by Japan which they still raise funds for campaigns that they never actually do? The last time a Greenpeace ship sailed to the Southern Ocean to defend whales was 2007 yet the money begging mail-outs continue to be churned out asking for donations to save the whales.

I have tried to hold my tongue over the last few years with regard to Greenpeace but this, this is a deceitful betrayal of what we created in the Seventies. They have simply spat in the face of their founders like myself, David Garrick and the late Robert Hunter with this shocking revelation that the Greenpeace Foundation is a pro-sealing organization.

We risked our lives to save seals from the clubs of the sealers. I was personally beaten by sealers and jailed for intervening against the seal slaughter. I was dragged through icy waters and across a blood soaked deck through a gauntlet of sealers on a sealing ship in 1977. They kicked and hit me with their clubs, spit on me and pushed my face into the blood and the gore and Greenpeace exploited those images to raise funds at the time and now they dismiss that sacrifice and the hard work and dangerous risks taken by Greenpeacers back then without even the courtesy of an apology to us who carried their banner.

And now Greenpeace refers to seal fur as eco-friendly. What next, an endorsement for Monsanto?

These people calling themselves Greenpeace today never took any risks for the seals, were never arrested, they have never even been to the ice floes to see the brutality with their own eyes.

This makes me both sad and extremely angry, betrayed and frustrated beyond measure.

Shame on you Greenpeace, this is unforgivable and a blatant revelation of just how far Greenpeace has drifted from its roots.

http://www.msnbc.com/msnbc-news/watch/wait-it-is-ok-to-wear-seal-skin-549602883956

Jan 25, 2016

World Love for Dolphins Day 2016

Join Sea Shepherd Conservation Society and Supporters Worldwide for World Love for Dolphins Day

Demonstrations against the global captive dolphin trade responsible for Taiji’s brutal dolphin hunts to take place worldwide.

As another season of dolphin slaughter draws to a close, Sea Shepherd Conservation Society is calling on volunteers, supporters and concerned individuals around the world to join with us and our Sea Shepherd Cove Guardians as we show our love for dolphins and call for an end to the captive dolphin trade that funds the slaughter of cetaceans in Taiji’s infamous cove.

On Saturday, February 13, Sea Shepherd will teach the world about the link between captivity and the cove with peaceful World Love for Dolphins Day demonstrations across North America and overseas. Sea Shepherd chapters will host demos at local businesses that profit directly from the dolphin slaughter by trading on their surviving family members and stand in solidarity with Sea Shepherd’s volunteer Cove Guardians currently on the ground in Taiji. On Valentine's weekend, animal lovers across the globe will show the world that there is nothing loving about captivity.

Every year, for the past six years, Sea Shepherd's Cove Guardians have patrolled the Taiji cove, where entire families of cetaceans are driven into the cove and either kidnapped and sold into captivity or ruthlessly killed. The tremendous amount of profit that the Japanese killers are getting for each captured dolphin, is truly the root of the evil that permeates the tiny town of Taiji, Japan. The love and compassion that people around the world have for these amazing creatures is evident in the support for the Sea Shepherd Cove Guardian campaign and their loud voices against captivity.

"Our utmost desire is to see a day when captivity is completely abolished and these beautiful, intelligent beings are allowed to roam free throughout the world's oceans, instead of being put into tiny tanks and forced to perform tricks, just to get their next meal.” said David Hance, Campaign Coordinator for Sea Shepherd Conservation Society. "Please join Sea Shepherd on February 13, as we stand up against captivity and against those companies that help perpetuate this horrific industry," added Hance.

How can you participate in “World Love for Dolphins Day” demonstrations?

1. Demonstrate at a Local Business That Supports the Captive Dolphin Trade

Join Sea Shepherd and Sea Shepherd’s Cove Guardians at these locations to educate the public about the connection between the slaughter and the show and encourage local businesses to stop supporting the dolphin hunt. Download and print a poster, and join us.

If you are interested in organizing a demonstration at a location near you, please email [email protected] to set up your approved event.

Posters (click to download PDF)PDF

WLDD 2016 poster 1 WLDD 2016 poster 2 WLDD 2016 poster 3 WLDD 2016 poster 4 WLDD 2016 poster 5 WLDD 2016 poster 6 WLDD 2016 poster 7

Leaflets (click to download PDF)PDF

WLDD 2016 Leaflet color WLDD 2016 Leaflet black-and-white

** More cities to be announced soon! Please stay tuned for updates! **

NORTH AMERICAN DEMONSTRATIONS

click on the city for event details on Facebook

Atlanta, GA
12 PM - 2 PM
Georgia Aquarium
225 Baker St. NW
Atlanta, GA 30313

Baltimore, MD
11 AM - 1 PM
National Aquarium
501 E Pratt Street
Baltimore, Maryland 21202

Boston, MA
12 PM – 2 PM
Liberty Travel - Boston
467 Washington St, Boston, Massachusetts 02111

Brookfield, IL
12 PM - 3 PM
Brookfield Zoo
3300 Golf Road
Brookfield, Illinois 60513

Indianapolis, IN
12 PM - 2 PM
Indianapolis Zoo
1200 W Washington Street
Indianapolis, IN 46222

Los Angeles, CA
12 PM - 2 PM
Across from the Beverly Hilton
9925 Wilshire Blvd.
Beverly Hills, CA. 90210

New York, NY
12 PM - 2 PM
Liberty Travel Union Square Mega Shop
25 West 14th Street
New York, NY 10011

Philadelphia, PA
1 PM – 3 PM
Liberty Travel Philadelphia
1524 Chestnut St
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania 19103

Portland, ME
10 AM – 2 PM
Monument Square
Portland, Maine 04101

San Antonio, TX
11 AM – 1 PM
SeaWorld San Antonio
10500 Sea World Drive
San Antonio, TX 78251

San Diego, CA
10 AM – 12:45 PM (taking place on Feb 14th)
SeaWorld San Diego
399 Sea World Drive
San Diego Ca 92109

San Francisco, CA
12 PM - 4PM
Pier 27 Grand Princess Cruise Terminal. San Francisco
San Francisco, California 94111

Tampa, FL
11 AM - 1 PM
SeaWorld Orlando
7007 Sea World Drive
Orlando, Florida 32821

Toronto, ON
10 AM - 1 PM
Dundas Square
1 Dundas Street E
Toronto, ON M5B 2R8
*The only and updated location is above.

Vancouver, BC
1 PM - 3 PM
Vancouver Aquarium
845 Avison Way
Vancouver BC

WORLDWIDE DEMONSTRATIONS

Please note: Any locations outside of North America are to be considered "unofficial” Sea Shepherd Conservation Society (SSCS) events organized by local volunteers and will NOT involve Sea Shepherd Global or other Sea Shepherd entities outside of Sea Shepherd Conservation Society.

Australia

Melbourne, Australia
12 PM - 2 PM
GPO Steps, Bourke St Mall
Melbourne VIC 3000

Perth, Australia
10 AM - 12 PM
Northbridge Piazza
Corner of James and Lake Streets
Northbridge WA 6003

Germany

Berlin
1 PM - 3 PM
Japanese Embassy Germany
Hiroshimastr. 6
10785 Berlin, Germany

Düsseldorf
12 PM - 5 PM
Japanese Consulate General - Dusseldorf
Immermannstr . 45 , D-40210
40233 Dusseldorf , Germany

2. Take a “selfie” with one of the posters above and send it to us.

We will post your selfies on our social media pages to proudly display your love for dolphins!

Please email photos to: [email protected].

Please send us your photos by February 14, 2015 at midnight EST.

For a staggering six months of each year, from September 1 until March, entire families of dolphins and small whales are driven into Taiji’s killing cove. Once netted within the shallow waters of the cove, their fate is sealed and the members of these doomed pods will face either imprisonment in captivity or brutal slaughter before the eyes of their families. Killers and trainers work side-by-side to select the “prettiest” dolphins and whales for captivity, those without visible scars. The others are mercilessly stabbed with a metal spike inserted into their backs, just behind the blowhole, to sever their spine. The dolphins slowly and painfully bleed to death or drown in the blood of their family—others may die as they are dragged to the butcher house, where the once living and free cetaceans are processed into meat for human consumption. These inhumane killings would not be allowed in any slaughterhouse in the world. Japan refuses to sign on to many protection efforts and regulations for marine mammals, despite most of the world recognizing the need to protect these self-aware, beloved and imperiled animals.

Sea Shepherd Conservation Society first brought the cove to the world’s attention by capturing and releasing now-iconic footage and imagery of the brutal hunts and slaughters in 2003, during which the cove turned a blood-red. Later the Academy Award-winning film The Cove again shone a spotlight on the hunts, bringing worldwide attention to the killings. Many individuals thought the film succeeded in bringing an end to the hunts, but that was not the case. So in 2010, Sea Shepherd established Operation Infinite Patience and our volunteer Cove Guardians took up positions alongside the cove to document, report and live stream these atrocities in the hope of capturing attention to bring pressure to bear to stop these barbaric acts. Sea Shepherd is the only organization to have a team on the ground in Taiji each day throughout the entire six-month killing season, and the only group who live streams every capture and every kill for the world to see. Sea Shepherd’s Cove Guardians will not stop shining a light on this atrocity until the slaughter ends.

Operation Henkaku
Visit our
Operation Henkaku
site for more information.

Jan 18, 2016

Sea Shepherd Removes Illegal Gillnets from Endangered Vaquita Porpoise Habitat

MV Farley Mowat gives illegal net to Navy net retrieval navy. Photo: Sea Shepherd/Carolina A CastroMV Farley Mowat gives illegal net to Navy net retrieval navy. Photo: Sea ShepherdOn January 15, 2016, the crew of Sea Shepherd Conservation Society's vessel the M/V Farley Mowat removed an illegal gillnet in the Gulf of California's vaquita porpoise habitat. This is the first gillnet recovered during Operation Milagro II since the Mexican government authorized Sea Shepherd Conservation Society to remove gillnets and other illegal fishing gear.

Sea Shepherd launched Operation Milagro II in November 2015 with the objective of stopping the extinction of the endangered vaquita porpoise. For the past seven weeks, Sea Shepherd Conservation Society's research vessel the R/V Martin Sheen has patrolled the vaquita habitat to stop poachers from deploying gillnets that are known to indiscriminatingly catch any species of fish or shark and drown marine animals and birds. The M/V Farley Mowat just arrived in the Gulf of California to assist the R/V Martin Sheen.

The vaquita are the smallest of cetaceans and only inhabit the northernmost part of the Gulf of California. They are one of the most endangered marine mammals. Scientists estimate that there are less than 97 surviving vaquita. Although all gillnets are dangerous for vaquita, the greatest threats to vaquita are the gillnets used to catch the totoaba fish due to the size of the opening of the mesh of the nets. As a similar sized animal, vaquita who swim into these gillnets become entangled and drown. Both the totoaba and vaquita are listed as endangered and protected in Mexico. However, the black market trade in the totoaba's fish bladder drives the poaching of the fish and is driving the extinction of the vaquita. 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 the entire northern part of the Gulf of California

Hammerhead killed by gillnet net retrieval. Photo: Sea Shepherd/Logan KananHammerhead killed by gillnet net retrieval. Photo: Sea Shepherd/Logan KananThe M/V Farley Mowat spotted the illegal gillnets on its first day patrolling the vaquita habitat. A former United States Coast Guard Cutter, the M/V Farley Mowat is a fast interceptor ship, designed for coastal patrols and capable of quickly locating and approaching with speed. The ship is also equipped with a small rigid inflatable speed boat, a crane, and a newly constructed net removal device.

“With my experience chasing poaching vessels in the Southern Ocean and Mediterranean Sea, as well as patrolling the Gulf of California in early 2015, I am confident that the R/V Martin Sheen and the M/V Farley Mowat would be able to patrol the gillnet-free zone to help ensure that gillnets are not used,” commented Campaign leader Captain Oona Layolle, captain of the M/V Farley Mowat.

Upon spotting the gillnet, the crew of the M/V Farley Mowat immediately began retrieving it and the Mexican Navy was notified. For more than six hours, the crew of the M/V Farley Mowat worked alongside the Mexican Navy to retrieve the nets.

Captain Layolle continued, “With the help of the Mexican Navy, we were able to remove approximately one and a half miles of gillnets and release twelve dogfish sharks. Unfortunately, the gillnet was in the water for at least several days and killed approximately sixty dogfish sharks, as well as three species of juvenile sharks, including two species of protected hammerhead sharks. Sea lions were also seen eating totoaba from the gillnet.”

Despite the two year ban on the use of gillnets, enforcement in such a large area is difficult. With its two vessels patrolling the Gulf of California, Sea Shepherd Conservation Society hopes for the miracle of the survival of the vaquita porpoise.

MV Farley Mowat gives illegal net to Navy net retrieval navy. Photo: Sea Shepherd/Carolina A CastroMV Farley Mowat gives illegal net to Navy net retrieval navy. Photo: Sea Shepherd
Sea Shepherd crew and Mexican Navy retrieve gillnet net retrieval navy. Photo: Sea Shepherd/Carolina A CastroSea Shepherd crew and Mexican Navy retrieve gillnet net retrieval navy. Photo: Sea Shepherd
Operation Milagro II
Visit our
Operation Milagro II
site for more information.

Jan 11, 2016

Celebrities Join Forces in Hollywood to Save our Oceans

Sea Shepherd Conservation Society welcomed fashion designer, Dame Vivienne Westwood, along with design partner and husband Andreas Kronthaler, to the Crossroads Kitchen in West Hollywood on Friday, January 8th at an event hosted by film producer James Costa and co-hosted by Sea Shepherd Chairwoman, Pamela Anderson.

Vivienne Westwood partnered with Sea Shepherd’s initiative to bring people from diverse backgrounds and experiences to address solutions to protect oceanic biodiversity, removing plastic from the sea and finding ways to mitigate the threat of climate change. Sea Shepherd is dedicated to defending oceanic ecosystems and promoting the understanding that it is a priority to allow the ocean to repair itself from damage caused by human activities like over-fishing, illegal fishing and chemical, sonar, plastic and radiation pollution.

"This is the year of the vegan," said Pamela Anderson. "We are very excited at Sea Shepherd to have Vivienne Westwood join the advisory board. And I am grateful to James Costa for hosting us at my favorite restaurant," she continued.

The year 2016 presents great challenges for Sea Shepherd. Some of the organization's ongoing campaigns include fighting to save the endangered vaquita porpoise in the Gulf of California, while also protecting sea turtles in Costa Rica, Honduras and Florida. Sea Shepherd is additionally focused on opposing the slaughter of dolphins in Taiji, Japan, the slaughter of pilot whales in the Danish Faroe Islands, defending the Galapagos Marine Reserve from poachers and removing ghost nets and plastic from the ocean.

Sea Shepherd Conservation Society is drawing on ideas, imagination, skills and passion from creative communities to help impact Sea Shepherd's work. Just like any ecosystem, the strength of any movement is in diversity. The organization's new Chair, Pamela Anderson welcomed Vivienne Westwood and Andreas Kronthaler into this diverse movement on Friday, to unveil Sea Shepherd's hopes and ideas, campaigns and challenges for 2016.

Left to Right: James Costa (Sea Shepherd Advisory Board Member); Dame Vivienne Westwood (Sea Shepherd Advisory Board Member); Pamela Anderson (Sea Shepherd Chairwoman of the Board of Directors); Farrah Smith (Sea Shepherd Celebrity Relations); Ross McCall (Sea Shepherd Advisory Board Member).Left to Right: James Costa (Sea Shepherd Advisory Board Member); Dame Vivienne Westwood (Sea Shepherd Advisory Board Member); Pamela Anderson (Sea Shepherd Chairwoman of the Board of Directors); Farrah Smith (Sea Shepherd Celebrity Relations); Ross McCall (Sea Shepherd Advisory Board Member). Photo: Diana Sanden

Jan 07, 2016

Legitimate Whale Research

Crew sets up research trawl. Photo: Jean Paul GeoffroyCrew sets up research trawl. Photo: Jean Paul GeoffroyAs the Japanese whaling fleet once again heads down to the whale sanctuary in Antarctica, scientists onboard Sea Shepherd’s research sailing vessel, the R/V Martin Sheen, have recently finished a month long whale research campaign in Mexico. Both of these endeavors claim to be research, however only the scientists onboard the R/V Martin Sheen are using non-lethal methods to collect samples from the whales.

The R/V Martin Sheen crew worked alongside marine biologists from the Universidad Autónoma de Baja California Sur in Mexico to monitor the health of the Gulf of California marine environment. The scientists’ research focuses on the impact of microplastics on fin whales in the Gulf of California. Microplastics are plastic fragments (<5 mm) that are becoming more prevalent in the marine environment. They are mostly the result of degrading plastics, such as plastic bottles or microbeads found in cosmetic products. Some alternatives that minimize plastic degradation are reusable bottles or cosmetics that use natural exfoliants. These plastic particles are often found in abundance at the sea surface, which is also where many marine organisms live and feed. Additionally, microplastics can be comprised of phthalates, polypropylene, polyethylene, as well as persistent organic pollutants (POPs), which accumulate in blubber and can be endocrine disruptors.

Crew recording research data. Photo: Jean Paul GeoffroyCrew recording research data.
Photo: Jean Paul Geoffroy
Fin whales are one of the largest filter feeders on earth and ingest microplastics while feeding. While the impacts of microplastics on baleen whales and their population viability are mostly unknown, other studies have shown increased toxicological stress in the whales. It is important that this type of research be continued to better understand the effects of microplastics on baleen whales in Mexico.

While it is important for research to take samples from whales—to study genetics and for conservation, there is a general consensus in the scientific community that it is unnecessary to hunt and kill whales for research. Scientists onboard the R/V Martin Sheen took skin biopsies from the whales by shooting a foam dart at the whale. Once the dart made contact with the whale a small plug of skin and blubber was taken and the dart bounced off into the water. We used a net to retrieve the dart and the scientist prepared the sample for storage in a sanitary liquid nitrogen container. In addition to the biopsies, photos of the whales were used for identification, allowing the scientists to identify whales at a later time. In different areas of the Gulf of California, the R/V Martin Sheen towed a small device called a ‘manta trawl’, which collected small debris in the water like microplastics. All of these data collection techniques were effective and did not disrupt or harm the whales.

Throughout this research campaign, our team observed several different marine species such as fin whales, pilot whales, orcas, sperm whales, a humpback whale, a bryde’s whale, bottlenose dolphins, common dolphins, hammerhead sharks, jumping rays, sea lions and green sea turtles. The Gulf of California is clearly home to a variety of animals and it is important that we continue our actions to protect them from the harmful impacts of microplastics and illegal fishing, all of which can be done by using non-lethal research methods.

The R/V Martin Sheen is continuing to protect wildlife in the Gulf of California by keeping the vaquita refuge safe from deadly gillnets in Operation Milagro II.

Nicole D’Entremont, Marine Scientist

Trawling for plastic. Photo: Jean Paul GeoffroyTrawling for plastic. Photo: Jean Paul Geoffroy
R/V Martin Sheen and whale in Gulf of California. Photo: Mike RigneyR/V Martin Sheen and whale in Gulf of California. Photo: Mike Rigney
Operation Milagro II
Visit our
Operation Milagro II
site for more information.

Jan 05, 2016

Mexican Government Grants Sea Shepherd Permission to Remove Illegal Gillnets from Endangered Vaquita Porpoise Habitat

Captain Oona Layolle meets with the Mexican Government. Photo: Sea Shepherd/Carolina A CastroCaptain Oona Layolle meets with the Mexican Government.
Photo: Sea Shepherd/Carolina A Castro
SAN FELIPE, BAJA CALIFORNIA, MEXICO
- On December 31, 2015, Captain Oona Layolle of Sea Shepherd's research vessel R/V Martin Sheen met with representatives from the Mexican Navy, Mexico’s National Commission of Natural Protected Areas (CONANP) and the Federal Attorney for Environmental Protection (PROFEPA) to develop a joint plan to find and retrieve illegal fishing nets found in the protected vaquita porpoise refuge. As a result of the meeting, Sea Shepherd is now authorized to remove illegal fishing nets found in the refuge.

This meeting follows the Christmas Eve discovery by the crew of the R/V Martin Sheen of a dead humpback whale calf, entangled in a gillnet inside the vaquita's refuge. At that time, Sea Shepherd was not authorized to remove the gillnet.

Vaquita porpoises are found only in the northernmost part of Mexico's Gulf of California. Acoustic monitoring devices were used to determine that there are less than 97 living vaquita, making the vaquita one of the most endangered marine mammals. The dwindling population of this small porpoise is largely due to gillnet fishing; the use of these gillnets is driven by the illegal trade of totoaba bass, a fish killed for the sale of their swim bladders on the black market in China. Gillnets used to catch the totoaba also entangle the vaquita and they drown because they cannot reach the surface to breathe. As a result, both the totoaba bass and the vaquita porpoise are on the brink of extinction.

In April 2015, Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto announced a two-year moratorium on gillnet fishing in the vaquita’s habitat. Since then, the Mexican Navy has arrested 40 poachers who were caught illegally fishing inside the vaquita's protected area. The Mexican government’s partnership with Sea Shepherd and Sea Shepherd's new authority to remove illegal fishing nets demonstrates the Mexican government's commitment to saving the vaquita.

"This expanded agreement and cooperation with the Mexican authorities demonstrates how crucial it is that gillnets are removed from the vaquita's refuge,” said Captain Layolle. “A vaquita could have easily befallen the same tragic death as the humpback whale calf. With less than 97 vaquita surviving, any death is devastating to their survival."

"We hope that our collaboration with the Mexican government will set an example for other governments," continued Captain Layolle. “The vaquita needs our vigilant efforts to survive. Sea Shepherd will not be deterred in protecting marine wildlife.”

Operation Milagro II is the second time Sea Shepherd has patrolled the Gulf of California to defend the vaquita porpoise. After patrolling the Gulf of California in March and April 2015, the R/V Martin Sheen began working with the Mexican Navy in November 2015, reporting on illegal fishing activities in the vaquita's protected area. This partnership has already resulted in the arrest of a trawling vessel in violation of the refuge boundaries. Sea Shepherd's new patrol vessel, the M/V Farley Mowat, will join the R/V Martin Sheen on January 16, 2016. The M/V Farley Mowat, a former United States Coast Guard patrol ship, will greatly increase the effectiveness of these patrols and is equipped retrieve illegal fishing nets.

Oona Layolle meets Mexican authorities. Photo: Sea Shepherd/Carolina A CastroOona Layolle meets Mexican authorities.
Photo: Sea Shepherd/Carolina A Castro
R/V Martin Sheen patrols the vaquita refuge. Photo: Sea Shepherd/Carolina A CastroR/V Martin Sheen patrols the vaquita refuge.
Photo: Sea Shepherd/Carolina A Castro
Operation Milagro II
Visit our
Operation Milagro II
site for more information.

Dec 28, 2015

Sea Shepherd Crew Discovers Grisly Scene While Patrolling Endangered Vaquita Porpoise​ Refuge in Mexico

Dead baby humpback in vaquita refuge with R/V Martin Sheen. Photo: Sea Shepherd/Mike RigneyDead baby humpback in vaquita refuge with R/V Martin Sheen. Photo: Sea Shepherd/Mike RigneySAN FELIPE, BAJA CALIFORNIA, MEXICO - At dusk on Christmas Eve, crew onboard the Sea Shepherd vessel R/V Martin Sheen spotted a dead humpback calf entangled in an illegal gillnet inside the Vaquita Refuge in the northernmost tip of Mexico's Gulf of California. A two-year ban on the use of gillnets was issued by Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto earlier this year in an effort to protect the Vaquita, one of the most endangered marine mammals in the world.

After spotting the whale from a distance, the crew upon closer inspection discovered that the calf's right flipper was entangled by the gillnet. The gillnet anchored the whale down to the bottom of the sea. The tail flukes were also injured and entangled with other fishing lines. The crew of the R/V Martin Sheen alerted the government authorities with the whale’s coordinates so they could remove the net and fishing debris from the area before it kills other marine life.

The R/V Martin Sheen’s international crew is currently engaged in Operation Milagro II, working with the Mexican authorities to enforce the two-year moratorium on the use of gillnets and to protect the vaquita's habitat. Vaquita are often accidentally caught in gillnets set to catch the totoaba, another endangered species native only to the northernmost part of the Gulf of California. The totoaba’s swim bladder is smuggled from Mexico and sold on the black market in China where it is used for a soup believed to have medicinal properties. The gillnets used to poach totoaba often trap the vaquita, entangling them and causing them to drown.

"It was a very sad sight to spot this dead humpback calf inside the vaquita's refuge. It proves that there is still totoaba poaching happening. There are less than 97 vaquitas surviving; any one of them could become caught in these deadly gillnets," said Bastien Boudoire, First Officer onboard the R/V Martin Sheen.

Baby whale tail entangled in fishing net. Photo: Sea Shepherd/Mike RigneyBaby whale tail entangled in fishing net. Photo: Sea Shepherd/Mike Rigney
Humpback’s flipper entangled in illegal gillnet in vaquita refuge. Photo: Sea Shepherd/Carolina A CastroHumpback’s flipper entangled in illegal gillnet in vaquita refuge. Photo: Sea Shepherd/Carolina A Castro

Currently, the Sea Shepherd crew is not authorized to remove the gill nets. Sea Shepherd has requested the authority from the Government of Mexico to remove gillnets in order to more effectively assist the Mexican Navy in protecting the vaquita’s habitat.

"We recognize and commend the efforts of the Mexican Navy. They are doing an outstanding job in the vaquita's refuge - extensively patrolling the area and enforcing the law here. We would like to help even further by being able to remove these nets that are a constant danger to the few surviving vaquitas. Losing even one vaquita at this point is a disaster as this species is on the brink of extinction right before our very own eyes," said Oona Layolle, Captain of the R/V Martin Sheen and Campaign Leader of Operation Milagro II.

By authorizing the Sea Shepherd crew to remove gill nets and other fishing line, Sea Shepherd can more effectively protect the vaquita and all marine wildlife in the Gulf of California. In the next few weeks, the R/V Martin Sheen will be joined by Sea Shepherd’s new fast patrol ship, the M/V Farley Mowat. This former United States Coast Guard Cutter will substantially increase Sea Shepherd’s effectiveness in patrolling the vaquita refuge and stopping the illegal use of gillnets.

Operation Milagro II
Visit our
Operation Milagro II
site for more information.

Dec 23, 2015

The Farley Mowat Departs for Operation Milagro

Operation Milagro IIThe Sea Shepherd Conservation Society fast patrol vessel Farley Mowat departs from Key West, Florida today to join up with the Sea Shepherd sailing ketch Martin Sheen in Mexico’s Gulf of California.

The mission is Operation Milagro. Sea Shepherd, in partnership with the Mexican Navy, is intent upon protecting the smallest and most endangered porpoise species on the planet – the Vaquita.

Already the Martin Sheen has been successful in keeping fishermen from illegally entering the Vaquita Refuge. With the addition of the Farley Mowat to the campaign, the operation will be even more effective.

There are less than 97 Vaquita in the world and Sea Shepherd’s Operation Milagro in partnership with the Mexican Navy is the only chance the Vaquita has for survival.

Captain Woody Henderson and the crew of the Farley Mowat will go first to Panama to transit the Panama Canal and then up the West Coast of Central America to the Gulf of California.

It will be Christmas and New Years for the crew of the Farley Mowat and the Martin Sheen at sea.

What a wonderful way to usher in 2016 by standing guard to defend one of the most endangered cetacean species on the planet.

You can be a part of Operation Milagro by joining Sea Shepherd’s efforts. Please donate to save the Vaquita and follow the campaign at http://seashepherd.org/milagro2/

Farley Mowat At SeaFarley Mowat At Sea

Operation Milagro II
Visit our
Operation Milagro II
site for more information.