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.

Nowadays I am ambassador of Ocean Reef for Sea Shepherd. This brand makes Full-Face Masks to dive. These devices are equipped with intercoms that allow the divers to communicate with others divers underwater as well as with people on the surface. The communication is a big issue for teamwork and safety when you are underwater which is the kingdom of silence.

As a diver and a human being I have always being concerned about helping others. I spent 7 years in a Firemen Rescue Team and 5 more years in a Mountain Rescue Team, but a few years ago I decided to dedicate my efforts to help those that are really unprotected, the animals. Even before becoming a Sea Shepherd Crewmember I have been involved with a local Mexican NGO called ORGFAS, their goal is to rescue fauna on land or at sea.

I have been involved with Sea Shepherd for a long time but my support to the organisation has been done mainly as an on-shore volunteer, but this changed suddenly with a phone-call.

>>Hi, my name is Oona Layolle, I’m Capitan of the RV Martin Sheen, I’m contacting you ‘cause I have really good recommendations from you as a diver and we need your help for a campaign in Costa Rica. <<

>>Me: WHAAAAAAT!!?? (This is now one of my famous quotes on board the Martin Sheen)

Sea Shepherd needed a diver for a campaign that was about to take place in Costa Rica, more precisely in Coco’s Islands. The idea sounded like a dream to me. Coco’s Islands is a paradise for divers where you can find Hammerhead-sharks -- I love this noble animal and feel identified with them because we have in common our shyness.

I was so excited with the phone-call that I barely could ask the where and when. Sooner than I was able to realize I was crossing Mexico, leaving behind the turquoise clear waters and palm trees of the Caribbean, heading towards the desert with its freezing winter and hot summer, surrounded by cactus and rocks. After multiple flights and buses I arrived in San Felipe to board the RV Martin Sheen, at that time the boat and its crew were at the lasts days of the first part of Operation Milagro, and it was then when I first learned the existence of the vaquita marina. This small and cute porpoise is in extreme risk of extinction due to the use of some fishing gear and because of illegal fishing activities. Sea Shepherd is working on these waters to provide them an opportunity to survive.

Oona Layolle, the Capitan of the boat at the moment and Carolina A. Castro, who was in charge of media, welcomed me when I first arrived to the RV Martin Sheen. Later I met the rest of the crew including Bastien Boudore, and they all told me about the amazing experience of being able to spot and film a Vaquita for the first time in many years.

When the first part of Operation Milagro ended, and after several changes to the crew including a new Capitan, Oona left the boat and François came on board. Then the RV Martin Sheen headed towards Costa Rica and Coco’s Islands. Once there I had the opportunity to dive with these shy inhabitants of the oceans, the Hammerhead-sharks. I was diving with some scientists of Keto Fundation, where we were collaborating with them to research the population of different marine species.

At the end of this wonderful experience, and after the opportunity of sailing and living on board a Sea Shepherd Vessel, I was really proud of the work done and I had the feeling that we were actually making a difference -- and that’s why I decided to stay a bit longer. Now I have the opportunity to help on the second part of Operation Milagro and I’ll be able to collaborate on the protection of this small porpoise, the Vaquita Marina. I hope that you from your homes can collaborate with us as well on its protection. I also hope to have the chance to spot some vaquitas.

During the following days I will share with you my experiences underwater as a Sea Shepherd Crewmember as well as what life is like on board this beautiful Research Vessel.

Jean Paul diving

Jean Paul diving

 

Español

Jean Paul holding Ocean Reef mask. Photo: Carolina A CastroJean Paul holding Ocean Reef mask.
Photo: Carolina A Castro
Mi nombre es Jean Paul, pero mis amigos me llaman JP, y así pueden llamarme ustedes desde ya. Soy un Ingeniero en Informática Chileno, aunque parte de mi infancia la pasé en la Isla San Cristóbal en las Galápagos, siempre cerca del mar. Mi madre me enseñó la pasión por el mar y los animales, recuerdo un ejemplo en particular: cuando vivíamos en el sur de Chile, un día ella rescató un Zorro herido y, mientras se recuperaba, le enseñó a cazar, a comer huevos y a sobrevivir, cuando el zorro estuvo en buenas condiciones lo liberamos.

Como más disfruto del mar y su belleza es bajo su superficie. Descubrí mi pasión por el mundo subacuático cuando me uní como Voluntario al cuerpo de Bomberos, la compañía en la que ingresé mantiene una unidad de Rescate Subacuático llamada GERSA (Grupo Especializado de Rescate Subacuático), donde aprendí a bucear, y también a realizar Rescates no Tradicionales, conocidos como Rescates Verticales. Tras mis inicios en el mundo del buceo obtuve mi certificación como buzo de recreo y así, durante los siguientes años, fui formándome hasta ser Instructor de Buceo Recreacional y Técnico, obteniendo por el camino diversos certificados PADI y RAID. He pasado mis últimos años de buceo disfrutando de la compañía de tiburones toro y martillo en distintas partes del mundo. Incluso he tenido la oportunidad de Bucear en la Antártica un par de veces en los últimos años, trabajando y apoyando labores científicas para una investigación con fondos privados. Durante esta aventura recogimos muestras de hielo, agua y de piel de algunas especies, realizando un estudio de impacto ambiental y de los efectos del cambio climático.

Actualmente soy el embajador de la marca OceanReef para Sea Shepherd, quienes fabrican Full FaceMask para buceo, estas máscaras están equipadas con intercomunicadores, esto te permite mantener la comunicación con otros buzos y con la superficie, lo cual resulta increíblemente útil cuando trabajas bajo el agua donde reina el silencio, y el trabajo en equipo y la seguridad suelen verse obstaculizadas por él.

Como buzo y ser humano, siempre he sentido preocupación por ayudar al resto, pasé 7 años como Bombero Rescatista, y otros 5 en Rescate de Alta Montaña, pero hace ya un par de años que dedico mis esfuerzos a ayudar a los realmente indefensos, los animales. Tanto es así, que ya antes de embarcarme con Sea Shepherd, he estado participando en labores administrativas y prácticas con una ONG local en México llamada ORGFAS que se dedica al rescate de fauna, tanto en tierra como en mar.

A pesar de que siempre he estado involucrado con las labores de Sea Shepherd, mi apoyo se ha relizadonormalmente desde tierra, hasta que un día recibí una llamada telefónica.

“- Hola mi nombre es OonaLayolle, Capitán del Barco RV Martin Sheen, te contacto por que recibí recomendaciones de ti como Buzo, y necesitamos de tu ayuda para una campaña en Costa Rica.

- Yo: Whaaaaaaattttt??? (Tono que la tripulación ya conoce)”

Sea Shepherd requería de un buzo para una campaña en Costa Rica, concretamente en la Isla del Coco, lo cual para mi sonó como un sueño, ya que es un paraíso para buceadores donde puedes encontrar Tiburones Martillo, a quienes adoro, me siento identificado con ellos pues tenemos en común la timidez.

Estaba tan emocionado que apenas pude decir ¿Cuándo y Dónde? Y en un abrir y cerrar de ojos me encontraba cruzando México dejando atrás las turquesas costas caribeñas con sus las palmeras y sus aguas cristalinas tras la dándome al lado desértico, helado en invierno y un horno en verano, rodeado de cactus y rocas. Llegue a San Felipe entre aviones y buses, para abordar el RV Martin Sheen que en ese momento se encontraba finalizando la primera etapa de la Operación Milagro en defensa de la vaquita marina, y fue entonces cuando conocí la existencia de esta particular marsopa, que lamentablemente está en gran riesgo de extinción debido a uso de ciertos tipos de redes y a la pesca furtiva.

Mi llegada al RV Martin Sheen fue recibida por Oona Layolle, la Capitana en ese entonces, y Carolina A. Castro, la encargada de Media, posteriormente conocí al resto de la tripulación y al actual Capitán Bastien Boudore, quienes me contaron la emocionante experiencia de haber conseguido ver y filmar a un par de ejemplares de Vaquita Marina por primera vez en años.

Finalizada la primera parte de Operación Milagro, y tras un cambio de tripulación que incluyó un relevo de Capitán, Oona dejó el timón a cargo de Francois, el RV Martin Sheen puso rumbo hacia Costa Rica y a la Isla del Coco. Allí tuve la maravillosa oportunidad de bucear durante algunos días con estos tímidos habitantes del océano, los tiburones martillo, en compañía de científicos de la Fundación Keto, con quienes colaborábamos para la realización de un estudio de poblaciones de distintas especies.

Al llegar al fin de esta maravillosa experiencia, habiendo tenido la oportunidad de navegar y vivir a bordo de una embarcación de Sea Shepherd, me sentía orgulloso del trabajo realizado y tenía la sensación que realimente estábamos marcando una diferencia, por ello decidí seguir embarcado una temporada más y así poder participar en la segunda parte de Operación Milagro y de esta manera tener la oportunidad de continuar con la bella labor de proteger esta pequeña marsopa, la Vaquita Marina. Espero tener la oportunidad de avistar algún ejemplar de este bello mamífero marino que hemos venido a ayudar, y deseo que ustedes, desde sus casas, nos ayuden también.

En los siguientes días compartiré con ustedes más de mis experiencias bajo el agua para Sea Shepherd, así como también como es la vida a bordo de un Velero de Investigación como este.

 

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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...