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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.
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/
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.”
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.
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
A 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 firstname.lastname@example.org
Report from the Field: Operation Pacuare
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.
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.
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.
Cabo Verde – Raso Island
Commentary by 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.
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.
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!
Report from the Field: Operation Pacuare
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.On August 15, 2014,
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.
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.
Environmental Public Civil Action Against Fishing Company Dom Matos for Fishing Endangered Sharks Has a New Hearing in Rio Grande/RS
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).
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
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.
The Gauntlet of Praia de Achados
Commentary by Simon Ager
Santa Luzia — one of ten islands that make up Cape Verde and born from volcanic rock.
Even in the rainy season, it barely rains; it is a dry, barren and desolate place. The sun beating down, the sparrows and lizards seek refuge in the shade of our tent, scavenging water from a rusty tin cup placed under a leaky water barrel.
Santa Luzia should be pristine; no one but marine biologists and traditional fishermen frequent the island. There is nothing but the mountains rising from the ocean floor, black sand blending into dirty blonde sand dunes flowing into crystal white sandy beaches.
The same could be said for the beach of Francisca. It is immaculate, but for the garbage left by fishermen who may soon no longer frequent this place.
Two kilometers of no man’s land sit between the beaches of Francisca and Achados. Geckos are the only creatures that seem hardy enough to frequent the bush scrub around here, only revealing themselves in the cool of night.
Approaching Achados, slowly the signs appear that there is something quite different about this beach. Remnants of plastic containers start to litter the sand dunes, growing in number as the dunes splay open onto the beach.
It is not a beach of pure white sand, but a beach of man-made garbage. 3 km of plastic bottles, containers, longlines, trawling nets raked and shredded across the rocks, furniture, box ties, plastic crates — it’s all here!
Any thoughts of doing a beach clean-up were quickly removed from my mind as I surveyed this man-made disaster. I watched the next wave of garbage rolling around in the surf ready to be dumped onto the sand. We counted as many as seventy different countries on the water bottles before we stopped counting.
My thoughts turned to the turtles and the gauntlet they have to run to survive here.
A loggerhead weighing in at 220lbs pulled itself up the beach, feeling her way through the darkness and fighting her way through the mountains of garbage in search of a place to nest. We found many nest attempts abandoned on this beach. The garbage is not just on the surface, but meters deep. Shards of plastic and nylon rope protrude into what should have been home to one hundred new lives.
The turtles need to lay their eggs. A few attempts can be made in one night before returning to the sea and trying again another night.
Unfortunately, many turtles head inland, searching for an environment fit to nest. It is these turtles that also get lost. They will only survive one day under the harsh sun that will rise in a few short hours.
Biosfera 1 has rescued many disorientated turtles, returning them to the ocean. Some are not so lucky, succumbing to the heat of the day and cooking inside their shell, laden with eggs.
A female will return to run this gauntlet five times in one season to lay up to five hundred eggs. She must do this two years in a row for the species to even have a chance of surviving.
Santa Luzia is a harsh environment. If it’s not the heat of the sun, the ghost crabs feasting on eggs and hatchlings, and the predators that await turtles in the ocean, it is the illegal killing of turtles throughout the islands, the longliners and the gauntlet of garbage that threaten the very survival of the loggerhead turtle!
Only one in one thousand will grow up to be a mature breeding adult!
Taiji Hunters Lose, Abandon Pilot Whales Driven Out of Cove After Slaughter of Their Family
The Juvenile Members of the Pod Remaining after Captive Selection and Slaughter were Left to Fend for Themselves; Some May Die of Starvation or Fall Prey to Predators
Taiji’s dolphin hunters attempted to drive the remaining members of a pilot whale pod that was driven into Taiji’s infamous killing cove on September 26 (Japan time) back out to sea on Sunday, but lost sight of the exhausted, stressed whales before they could reach open water. The juvenile pilot whales were abandoned to fend for themselves following the brutal slaughter of most of their family, and may die without the protection of their mothers and pod.
On Friday, Sept. 26, Sea Shepherd’s volunteer Cove Guardians documented and live streamed to the world as a pod of approximately 20-25 short-finned pilot whales was driven into shallow waters by the hunting boats. Once netted into the cove, two young members of the pod were torn from their family and their ocean home to be sold for captivity. The rest of the pilot whales were held for nearly forty-eight hours without food or shelter, being tossed around in the waters of the rocky cove by strong winds and currents.
In the early morning of yesterday, Sunday, Sept. 28, fifteen members of the pod were brutally slaughtered, and their bodies dragged past their surviving family members, toward Taiji’s cetacean butcherhouse. The killers then took a break, and returned to drive the 8-10 juvenile survivors of these traumatic two days back out of the cove. It is likely that they did not want these small pilot whales to count toward their annual quota, as they would not produce much meat to be sold. Sea Shepherd’s Cove Guardians live streamed and documented as the hunters lost sight of the pilot whales, who barely had the energy left to swim. One pilot whale was seen entangled in nets, left without the strength to free itself.
The hunters decided to end any attempts to drive them back out to deeper waters and abandon the vulnerable juvenile pilot whales, who now face a struggle to survive. Without their mothers, they may starve, fall prey to predators or succumb to stress and injuries endured over the past few days. Sea Shepherd’s Cove Guardians will continue to watch for any who may wash ashore in the coming days.
This was the first pod of pilot whales caught thus far during the 2014-2015 drive hunt season. Four pods of Risso’s dolphins have been driven into the cove since the season began on September 1, and approximately 37-40 Risso’s have been slaughtered. On September 20, actress Shannen Doherty was on the ground in Taiji, live streaming with Sea Shepherd’s Cove Guardians, as one of these pods faced brutal slaughter and one calf was taken and sold for captivity. Doherty also live streamed from Taiji Whale Museum, where “Shoujo” — a rare albino bottlenose calf captured last year — remains captive in a small tank.
For a staggering six months of each year – from September 1 until March – entire family units, or pods, of dolphins and small whales are driven into Taiji’s killing cove. Banger poles are hit against the side of the hunting boats to create a “wall of sound,” disorienting the sound-sensitive marine mammals and making it nearly impossible for them to escape the drive. When a large pod is captured, killers and trainers will work side-by-side to select the “prettiest” dolphins or whales (those without visible nicks or scars) for captivity. It is the multi-billion dollar global trade in captive cetaceans that funds the slaughter. The Cove Guardians have repeatedly documented that the captive selection process occurs simultaneously to the slaughter, as those who are not killed for human consumption are sold for captivity, and transported to captive facilities in Taiji or aquariums and marine parks around the world. If there are pod members remaining, they are driven out to sea in a drive just as stressful as the drive into the cove. Most are juveniles with little to no chance of survival on their own.
Sea Shepherd’s Cove Guardians, volunteers who travel from around the world, are the only group on the ground in Taiji every day throughout the entire six-month hunting season. They document and live stream every capture and every slaughter for the world to see. The 2014-2015 season marks the fifth year of Operation Infinite Patience, and the Cove Guardians will not stop returning to Taiji until the slaughter ends.
site for more information.