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!

Since I watch the documentary The End of the Line six years ago, I develop a lot of disgust toward gillnets and longlines. Gillnets are nothing but underwater walls of death.  They are often illegal because they are not a selective method of fishing. Whether they are used by big fishing companies or local fisherman, they are a global problem for the environment. Like other non-targeted species such as sea turtles, sharks, dolphins, rays, whales and many others, the Vaquita Marina are also a victim of this fishing gear. And they are becoming extinct because of it.

The story of the Vaquita Marina is a story that has already been heard and told in human history. Think about the dodo, the Tasmanian tiger, the west African black rhinoceros, the Steller's sea cow and the Javan tiger. The list goes on and on. All of them were hunted down to the last individual or their habitats were polluted or destroyed.

And as long as human behavior toward nature remain destructive, we will continue to hear that same story for other species in the coming decades.

It is up to every single one of us to change our habits and take actions against the destruction of the Earth. Whether it is happening in our own backyard or on the other side of the planet, it is a global issue.

Batien Boudoire

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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...