Crew Blog

Read field reports and other news from the frontlines of the campaign.

 

Miracles Happen

by Corey Dahlquist

Corey Dahlquist. Photo: Carolina A CastroToday is a Sea day – we are almost complete with our transit from the Vaquita refuge near San Felipe, Baja, Mexico to San Diego, California.  It’s cloudy, windy, and a bit bumpy.  I imagine that everything I am feeling is like unto what thousands of Sailors felt before me and that thousands more will feel after.

Operation Milagro is the most unprecedented success for Sea Shepherd as well as in global conservation history. As our mission comes to a close I am overwhelmed with all of the accomplishments that I share with this extraordinary crew – from the Captain to the media to the newest deckhand.  Everyone contributed immeasurably to the partnership with the Mexican government, the Mexican Navy, the local community, and to removing 42 illegal nets and 16 illegal long-lines from the Vaquita refuge and the gillnet exclusion zone in the Sea of Cortez.  We destroyed over 100 net and long-line anchors, collected and destroyed over 2000 long-line hooks, and created 10 variants of our signature “Phantom Ray” net and long-line catcher three of which we presented to the Mexican Navy to carry on operations during our brief departure.  Most importantly, the sea life saved from those nets, lines, and hooks may be measured in numbers but can never be measured in their continuing contribution to the earth and the marine ecosystem.

Read more: Miracles Happen

Not to be forgotten…

by Roy Sasano

Roy Sasano. Photo: Carolina A CastroAs the Farley Mowat wraps up this phase of Operation Milagro, I've been reflecting upon the events we've shared over the past 5 months. You've seen death and destruction.You've also seen life and hope. You know the main stories and characters through the lens of a producer's imagination, both in our web content and on TV.

There are many important things that you might not know, however – credit deserved but not given, stories untold but not forgotten. Here are my top 5:

Read more: Not to be forgotten…

Conservation with Teeth

By Sean Olson

Sean Olsen. Photo: Carolina A CastroI had no idea what to expect when I made the decision to work with Sea Shepherd. Some people said that they were pirates, some called them eco-terrorists, and others dismissed them as “dirty hippies.”  Looking back, I suppose that all of those groups sounded good to me, so I caught a plane to Mexico to save a porpoise on the brink of extinction, and maybe, something else.

On my first day here we freed a humpback whale that was caught in a fishing net, two weeks later we pulled up a similar net that had trapped and killed both a white shark, and a bottlenose dolphin. In the few weeks between, we removed a dozen illegal nets, several long lines, and resuscitated quite a few dying animals.  

Read more: Conservation with Teeth

The Sea of Cortez

by Bastien Boudoire

Batien Boudoire"The Sea of Cortez"  where is that? When I first got the chance to crew on Operation Milagro 1 as Captain Oona's first mate, I didn't even know where the Sea of Cortez was located. And like most  people, I didn't know what a Vaquita Marina was. As I learned more about it, I was shocked by the numbers: approximately 150 Vaquita Marina alive in 2007 and approximately 90 in 2014.

Between the ongoing fishing activities generated by the consumers demand for seafood and the fact that the Colorado River is no longer flowing, we are still the biggest threat for the Vaquita Marina. Even though the Vaquita Marina is not the direct target of the poachers, it is killed as by-catch in gillnets.

Recently, with the help of the Mexican Navy, the Sea Shepherd crew retrieved an illegal totoaba gillnet that was approximately 500 meters long. After the action, in the very early morning, I fully realized what we had done.  An intense feeling of pleasure and justice ran through me.

We also found two other gillnets and one longline, all of which were illegal gear.  What an awesome thing to know that no more animals will die as a result of this illegal fishing gear! That is the best reward for all of us!

Read more: The Sea of Cortez

Diving for Sea Shepherd

By Jean Paul

En Español

Jean Paul holding Ocean Reef mask. Photo: Carolina A CastroJean Paul holding Ocean Reef mask.
Photo: Carolina A Castro
My name is Jean Paul but my friends know me as JP, and from now on you are welcome to call me that. I am a Computer Engineer from Chile but I spent part of my childhood on San Cristóbal Island on the Galápagos Islands, always close to the sea. I learned to love the sea and the animals from my mum. I remember one day when we were living on the South of Chile, she rescued a fox -- she spent days teaching him how to hunt and how to eat eggs while he was recovering his health, and when he was ready she freed him.

I am an underwater lover. I discovered my passion for the subaquatic world when I joined the Firemen as a Volunteer. The unit I was part of has a group specialized in Subaquatic Rescue called GRESA (Grupo de Rescate Subacuatico) as well as a Non-traditional Rescue Unit, also known as vertical rescue. I learned how to dive while I was volunteering with them. After my first experiences as a diver I got my certification as a Recreational diver and from then on, I was training until becoming a Dive Instructor and a Tec Diver, with several PADI and RAID certificates. I spent my last years as a diver enjoying the company of bull-sharks and hammerhead-sharks in different parts of the world. I have even been diving in Antarctica waters helping in some scientific research; we were taking samples of ice, water and animal’s skins to investigate the environmental impact and climate change.

Read more: Diving for Sea Shepherd

Schrödinger’s Buoy

by Adam Conniss

Adam ConnissThe day is almost over and I do not know if I should be enjoying myself as much as I am. I am on the foredeck of my ship the “Farley Mowat” and working around me are my friends and fellow crew. We have reached a natural break in our rhythmic task. People swap roles and fresh hands take over from weary ones. We are all sweating and a beaker of water is passed around, knives are sharpened. I feel high and elated, it is exactly a year ago today that I joined these ships and I am proud of myself and my crew. This is the work we all signed up to do; dirty, grim hard work but don't I feel happy, don't I feel alive.

The day started so well.

Read more: Schrödinger’s Buoy

Joining the RV Martin Sheen

By Mar Casariego

en español

Mar CasariegoI heard about Sea Shepherd a few years ago, and even then, the idea of protecting the oceans sounded great to me, but it looked too risky and extreme for me. Even though I love adventure, traveling and nature and I have always dreamed about helping the environment I was not sure at all, that my quiet and shy character fitted with this black flag and rough behavior.

The Sea has been always present on my life; I was born by the sea side, surrounded by the salty wind of the sea. My father was a lighthouse-keeper and my home was a sailors guide, my first memories are with my brother looking at the sea from our lighthouse’s terrace just trying to figured out where the boats were going to, I remember spending my summers on the rocks observing the crabs, sea urchins and octopus hiding in the cracks of the rocks. I started to sail before I can remember and since then I fell in love with the sea. That’s why the idea of taking care of the oceans and those who live in them, besides of sounding so beautiful, makes so much sense to me. I could not live without the sea.

Read more: Joining the RV Martin Sheen

My First Time Sailing

by Conrad Carr

Conrad CarrThis was my first time actually sailing. I've lived for weeks at a time out on catamarans in Indonesia hunting swell, but that was a different story. I was just eating, sleeping, and surfing all day. Out here I feel like an actual sailor, a bad sailor, but a sailor with a cause.

December 12th 2015, I flew in to San Felipe in the smallest "commercial" plane in the world over desert and huge white mountains, not white with snow, but sand. We landed at an "airport" that was literally one quarter mile long air strip road. If you were to see this airport you would think it was some farmer's barn out in the middle of the desert by the sea. A 24-year-old amigo named Sabino picked me up in a taxi and told me something about "playas bonitas." Sabino took me to the beach where I jumped on a dingy with JP and Carolina and headed for the boat. I got my shoes all wet. We motored up to the Martin Sheen, a massive "pirate" ship, gold and elegant. I climbed aboard and felt like young Jack Dawson, when he first got on the Titanic, young, wild and free. I met the crew, learned the safety precautions, and got my watch hours of 12 am to 3 am and 12 pm to 3 pm, where I am to scan the horizon for enemy boats by night and vaquita porpoises by day. After dinner I went out on the deck and watched the stars. I've never seen the sky so vast, so open, so beautiful. The Big Dipper was right above the ocean. The Milky Way was clear as day. There were a million stars in the sky as we sailed across somewhat bumpy seas.

Read more: My First Time Sailing

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Milagro III

Operation Milagro IV: A Vaquita Defense Campaign
This campaign launch video illustrates the issues surrounding the vaquita rescue efforts. Sea Shepherd is continuing its relentless commitment to stop the imminent extinction of the endangered vaquita porpoise by is returning to Mexico’s Gulf of Ca...
Op. Milagro III: Sam Simon Campaign Summary
The history of the Sam Simon, and the facts and figures surrounding the work this ship has done during Operation Milagro III in the Gulf of California from December 2016 to May 2016.
Operation Milagro III: The Endangered Vaquita Porpoise
ATTENTION! ATTENTION!! Sea Shepherd is making a valiant effort to save the CRITICALLY ENDANGERED Vaquita Porpoise from EXTINCTION. There are fewer than 30 left on Earth. We have to do everything we can to stop the use of illegal gillnets!! Please joi...
Operation Milagro III: Illegal Gillnets
This is a typical day for the Sea Shepherd crew on Operation Milagro III. The Gulf of California is one of the world’s hotspots for marine biodiversity, We will continue our work retrieving illegal nets, giving the unique inhabitants like the near-...
Operation Milagro III: Dead Dolphin Caught in Illegal Gillnet
Illegal gillnets do not discriminate! They are silent death traps that kill all sorts of sea life. Help our efforts to save marine life in the Gulf of California where the The MV Sam Simon and The M/V Farley Mowat are currently patrolling for Operati...
Operation Milagro III: M/V Sam Simon’s Thunder & Viking boats
The Thunder and Viking are two RHIBS (Rigid Hulled Inflatable Boats) on the Sam Simon ship. The agility and speed at which these boats can be launched allows these boats to play a primary role, detecting and retrieving illegal nets in the Gulf of Cal...
Operation Milagro III: Ray Day
On the 17th of April the crew of M/V Farley Mowat retrieved an illegal net with 22 cownose rays entangled inside. Twenty one of the rays were released alive. Unfortunately, one was dead. Every life counts, and every net out of the waters is a success...
Operation Milagro III: A busy 24 hrs
During the 11th and 12th of March, the Milagro III fleet witnessed a stampede of poachers in the Gulf of California. The Farley Mowat and Sam Simon drone pilots were hot in their case, and in some instances, met with fierce resistance from the poache...
Operation Milagro III: Using Drones to Nab Poachers
On Operation Milagro III, drones have proven to be one of the most valuable assets we have battling poaching in the Gulf of California. Many thanks to our donor, Clarence Stanback, whose generosity has enabled us to create a drone program at Sea Shep...
Op. Milagro III: The Totoaba Bass
The endangered totoaba has a long history in the Gulf of California. Watch this Sea Shepherd video to learn more about this fish and why its swim bladder is targeted by poachers.
Operation Milagro III: Wildlife of the Gulf of California
The stunning biodiversity of life in the Gulf of California is what keeps us going and what are here to protect. Poachers may try to do everything in their power to get us to leave. But we are here for our clients and we are not going anywhere. Suppo...
Operation Milagro III: Facing Death
During a single patrol in Mexico’s Gulf of California, the crew of the M/V Farley Mowat encountered two dead whales, 24 dead dolphins, a dead sea lion, and countless dead birds. The near-extinct vaquita and the endangered totoaba is not the only vi...
Op. Milagro III: Dolphin and Whale Day in the Gulf of California
While in the gulf of California we see a variety of marine wildlife coexisting with one another. Sights like this one give us hope that this ecosystem still has the potential to remain wild and beautiful as long as we stay vigilant in protecting it.
Op. Milagro III: 66 Dead Totoaba in One Gill-net
On March 14th, the Farley Mowat crew discovered a gill-net approximately 250 metres in length, with 66 endangered totoaba fish. After hours of work, they managed to untangle the catch and hand it to authorities. Sea Shepherd was also granted a glimps...
Op. Milagro III: The MV Sam Simon & the Dolphin Megapod
On February 25, 2017, while patrolling the waters of the Gulf of California for Operation Milagro III, the M/V Sam Simon sailed through a megapod of dolphins with numbers estimated to be more than 1000 individuals. The elation and joy of this sight c...
M/V SAM SIMON: Operation Milagro III in the Gulf of California
The M/V Sam Simon has embarked on its inaugural mission to save the near-extinct vaquita, the endangered totoaba and other sea life in the Mexico’s Gulf of California for Operation Milagro III (2016-2017). Learn about the history and abilities of ...
Operation Milagro III: Unprecedented Amount of Illegal Nets Pulled in a 48-Hour Period
Over 1000 Animals Saved - Sea Shepherd’s M/V Farley Mowat and M/V Sam Simon pulled a record number of illegal gillnets – 18 -- in Mexico’s Gulf of California during a 48 hour period, saving and releasing over 1000 marine animals including Hamme...
Op. Milagro III: Biodiversity in the Gulf of California
Once called the World’s Aquarium by Jacques Cousteau, the Gulf of California has always had a high level of endemism. Today, fishing is the main cause of the destruction of its ecosystem. Featuring Sea Shepherd crew and Dr. Roy Houston, professor...
Op. Milagro III: Sea Shepherd Rescues Fisherman in the Gulf of California (with subtitles)
On the night of the 25th, The Farley Mowat came across fishermen in a small panga boat. When approached by The Farley, the fishermen fled at high speed. Some distance from the fishing boat, The Farley crew noticed a large splash as fishing boat come ...
Op. Milagro III: Sea Shepherd vs Poachers in the Gulf of California
Six fishing boats engaged in illegal activities were spotted by Sea Shepherd Conservation Society in Mexico’s Sea of Cortez, ending in their arrest by the Mexican Navy.
Op. Milagro III: Ghost Nets Go; Vaquitas Stay
Sea Shepherd and the M/V Farley Mowat break down how illegal underwater nets in the Sea of Cortez are snagged, pulled, cut and bundled. Footage also includes freeing and releasing live animals from the nets and cataloging those who unfortunately did ...
Sam Simon arrives in Mexico for Operation Milagro III
The Sam Simon has arrived in Mexico to join the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society-led campaign, Operation Milagro III. A partnership between Sea Shepherd and the Mexican authorities, Operation Milagro III intercepts, intervenes and interrupts any ill...
Operation Milagro III Campaign Launch Video
Sea Shepherd Conservation Society is returning to Mexico’s Gulf of California for Operation Milagro III to save the near extinct vaquita marina porpoise and the endangered totoaba bass. The M/V Farley Mowat is back on active duty with the M/V Sam S...