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:

5. Captain Woody Henderson

You might know Captain Henderson as the man who delivered Farley to the Sea of Cortez. What you might not know is that he joined us way back in November 2015 to do much of the ship prep work for transit and campaign. His technical expertise and work ethic were critical for making the ship effective throughout Operation Milagro. More significantly, however, is the leadership and commitment he has shown the crew.

He has earned our respect, and has thus truly become a part of this ship. It's only fitting that he has taken command of Farley once again for the end of this campaign.

4. All of the departed crewmembers

Some crewmembers like Conniss, Kat and Fernando, helped prepare Farley for better part of a year, and then remained aboard to participate in the campaign. Others couldn't stay until the end.

They helped with the bulk of Farley's preparation in Key West, joined us for the frantic days in Tampa, or helped get us through transit and parts of campaign. Katie (ship manager), Sarah (cook), EB (boatswain/welder), Xan (everything), Paloma (first officer) and probably more than 30 other crewmembers can all take credit for the lives we've saved here.

3. Nicole, Melanie, and the Tampa Sea Shepherd Chapter

Some of you might have met the Tampa Chapter volunteers while we were giving ship tours at the Tampa Convention Centre. What you might not know is that the Tampa Chapter was with us from the moment we pulled into the dockyard. They bought and cooked food for us, picked up and delivered hundreds of packages –including critical parts and supplies- helped us maintain our overnight security watches, and took us out for dinner and a movie before we departed.

I'd also like to give special thanks to the Tampa Chapter kids who showed up during the tours to hand out holiday cards to the entire crew. For many of us, the tours were particularly exhausting mentally, but those cards kept us smiling through to the end.

Tampa Chapter kidsTampa Chapter kids
Greeting cards from Tampa Chapter kidsGreeting cards from Tampa Chapter kids

2. Bob and the Tampa Dockyard Workers

While Farley was in the Gulf Marine dockyard in Tampa, we met many enthusiastic supporters who immediately made us feel welcome. Most memorable for me was Bob, who donated his hard hat to us, and asked that we name a sea turtle after his daughter, Julie. Bob, we haven't had a perfect chance to name a turtle on this campaign, but know that every time we see one swim by, we all think “Julie.”

Note: As I write this, I'm pretty sure Logan is painting a sea turtle on one of the bulkheads down below. Any guesses as to the name we're giving her?

1. Sammy the Sea Lion and the rest of our clients

No matter how much we focus on marine wildlife –the centre of our cause- we can't possibly say enough. I would dwell on all of the senseless death we've seen, but we have reasons to feel hopeful.

Maybe we're just losing our minds, but we swear that Sammy the Sea Lion is always encouraging us while we retrieve nets –yes, it's always the same Sammy, sometimes with a friend. The same huge pod of dolphins swims out with us whenever we transit across the refuge. All of the rays and humpbacks wave as they glide by. We see so much life every day that we know that the oceans and planet can still be saved.

Sammy the sea lion

One more illegal gillnet out of the water, one more poacher chased out of the refuge, one more piece of evidence submitted to the authorities –that's just a day in our lives now. When we leave here, we can hold our heads high, while giving a nod to everyone who has made it possible for us to serve the planet in this capacity.

Let's keep this up. Let's change the world.

Roy Sasano
Executive Officer
M/V Farley Mowat

Roy Sasano. Photo: Carolina A Castro

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Milagro III

Operation Milagro IV: A Vaquita Defense Campaign
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Op. Milagro III: Sea Shepherd vs Poachers in the Gulf of California
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Op. Milagro III: Ghost Nets Go; Vaquitas Stay
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