Meet the Crew - Operation Pacuare’s Brett Bradley
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.
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