Oona Layolle - Captain
I have taken part in several campaigns with Sea Shepherd since 2011 and I am currently the Director of Ship Operations at Sea Shepherd Conservation Society, and Captain and Campaign Leader for Operation Milagro to save the vaquita marina, the most endangered porpoise on this planet, facing the very real threat of extinction.
I grew up travelling the world with my seafaring family onboard various sailing boats, and living on different Pacific Islands. During my travels, I witnessed so many underwater places and island paradises turning into dead zones in such a short lapse of time. I always wanted to fight against the destruction of the planet caused by human behavior. There is a big lack of education and logic in the way we are treating our world. Without nature, there is no life. I want to be part of the movement that is fighting for us and for the respect of our Earth; I want to inspire others to take care of this planet by helping to change our behaviors by fighting against those who are destroying it.
While I was looking for a ship on which to work during the Mediterranean summer season of 2011, I crossed paths with the Brigitte Bardot crew in France. I jumped on this perfect opportunity to finally use my skills and experience to do something that makes a difference. They needed someone to navigate the ship, and I had all the qualifications and experience to be that person. I was supposed to go work with Sea Shepherd for two months, and it has now been five great years. Sea Shepherd has been the perfect organization for me, because the sea is the place where I grew up and where I can best use my skills and knowledge to fight for life and to serve our planet.
Corey Dahlquist - Deckhand, Medical Officer
“I am extremely honored to be a member of the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society and a crewman aboard the Farley Mowat.” “We have an exceptionally talented crew and team who I love working with everyday.” “Direct action to protect marine wildlife is essential for everyone's future; these campaigns are worthwhile and I'm happy to note that everyone, no matter where you are in the world, can help us accomplish these missions.”
Previous to joining Sea Shepherd and Operation Milagro III, Corey was a 23 year servicemember and veteran with the United States Army retiring in 2014. He was born and raised in Blackfoot, Idaho, and currently resides in Boise, Idaho. Corey possesses as Masters of Science degree in Environmental Management. His family includes his parents (Dave & Rhonda), his brother and sister in law (Terus & Trish), and his neice and nephew (Kylie & Easton). Corey also has a cat named Kitten Pie.
Fernando Schnitzer - Zodiac Operator, Deckhand
My name is Fernando, I am from Puerto Rico. I am a high school history teacher. I am very passionate about creating positive chance in the world, be it through teaching, community organizing or volunteering with direct action organizations such as Sea Shepherd.
I love working with Sea Shepherd because it is a great learning opportunity and at the same time it gives me the chance to give back to the earth, from which our species has taken so much away, through strategies and tactics which I agree with. I think that direct action is the best way to go if you want to get actual results. I have always wanted to volunteer for Sea Shepherd ever since I first heard about them in college. I like that Sea Shepherd is not a protest organization and it actually goes out and stops the thrashing and obliteration of endangered ocean animals and does not depend on anyone else to do it for them. It is a great example of how people should come together and create solutions for a lot of our worlds problems.
Other than learning useful skills like welding, using the radar and seamanship skills, I have grown as a person from living on this ship and sharing this experience with the rest of the crew.
I hope to take this experience and all that I have learned back home to Puerto Rico and use them to keep making a difference in the world.
I was born In Bogotá Colombia and I’ve lived there all my life, far from the sea. I’ve always had a passion for ships, boats, pirates and adventure stories, but traveled to the coast just a handful of times and never got to sail to the open sea.
Both my parents are veterinarians so I grew up surrounded by animals, always being taught to be kind and mindful of them and their habitats. Hearing about horrible crimes against nature back in Colombia, like deforestation of the rain forest, or the trade in wild birds or tortoise hatchlings for pets always made me sick, but there are two events that I witnessed as a child that marked me forever…
As a 7 year old I spent a vacation in the rainforest with my Uncle, He purchased a 2´ catfish from some indigenous fisherman. I watched that catfish drown in the bottom of my Uncle´s small wooden boat after being struck a viscous blow from a machete that was supposed to kill it. I had tearfully begged my Uncle for it to be spared but he paid good money for that fish. That catfish had a solid boney head and I could see him slowly moving his mouth and whiskers for a very long time. I cried all the way back to my Uncle´s, and I didn´t talk to him for many days after that. Perhaps for him this is just another funny story about my childhood, but it is a very painful memory for me.
When I was 9 years old, on a family vacation to the Pacific coast of Colombia. I watched as a local fisherman chopped live baitfish that he had just caught, chopping them into hook sized pieces. Every single fish was killed slowly, by cutting off its tail then being sliced inch by inch toward it´ s still breathing head. The images of those fish being chopped down haunted my dreams and daily thoughts for months after that.
These two most shocking and sad memories of my childhood are the basis of my strong sympathy for fish, they are so strong and resilient and we are exploiting them at every turn with more and more advanced ways to kill them in their thousands of millions.
If I could travel back in time and tell my childish self, that in a matter of years he would be on the open sea on a bad ass, mean ex-military ship, flying a jolly roger, on a mission to chase poachers and retrieve illegal nets to save fish and other marine life from an agonizing and painful death, he would get so excited that he would pee his pants.
Katja Walther - Deckhand, Crane operator and Media
Volunteering as a deck hand alongside the incredibly passionate and inspirational crew here on the Farley Mowat has reignited my interest in NGO’s, enforced the importance of direct action, broadened my horizons, and cultivated my love for the oceans. I could never have imagined being part of such a dedicated and motivational team of change makers.
When I first stumbled across Sea Shepherd ten years ago I was immediately inspired by the organization’s ability to bridge the gap between what was politically possible and what was environmentally necessary. Since then it has been my dream to volunteer for Sea Shepherd and support the organization in any way possible.
I have been involved in conservation action since childhood when my parents began attending community efforts to dispute unsustainable resource development in our area. Little did they know the impact this would have on their young daughter who soon became a little too interested in direct action, attending protests and involved herself in environmental and animal rights groups. After years of working with conservation organizations, participating in ecosystem preservation projects and involving myself in the animal rights movement, I became resolved to put the dialogue I had surrounded myself with into action. I began studying NGO’s and Not For Profits and upon completing my Associate of Arts in Global Stewardship, I found myself engaged in many grassroots efforts to build a healthier, sustainable future. Sea Shepherd continued to influence and inspire my actions, and it was enlightening to see that as the need for urgent conservation action on the world stage continued to be diluted into non-binding political jargon, Sea Shepherd remained dedicated to achieving lasting and valuable change.
Being part of an organization that, in the face massive unprecedented threats to the natural world, ensures that the value of nature is reflected in its actions is truly a life changing experience. The many volunteers and supporters of Sea Shepherd will always be my heroes – Thank you!
Mark Crowder - Engineer, Diver
“I've been teaching Marine Conservation and Ecological Monitoring for the last four years and have come to understand the harm humans have been doing to the life in the ocean, and the ocean its self for many years. Up until now the work and teaching I've been doing has been on a small scale. Two or three students at a time working on a few bits of coral, or an artificial reef or a small section of a reef. Work that is hugely important for the survial of our reefs. But quite often hours if not years of work can be wiped out by a stray anchor. Now I would like to take some direct action on hopefully a wider scale to protect the ocean and the life that lives there. So it is truly an honor to be serving here on the Farley Mowat working for Sea Shepherd.
Previous to joining Sea Shepherd I had been backpacking around the world and living on and off in the Gulf of Thailand following my lifetime passion of Scuba diving. Teaching people how to dive and as much about the ocean and the life there as I can.
Paloma de Castilla - First Mate
My name is Paloma de Castilla. I am 43 years old and I am from Spain.
When I was a child my hero was a French Marine Biologist called Jack Cousteau. Instead of watching cartoons as every child, I watched his TV documentaries every week. I learned so much about sea life and I fell in love with dolphins, sharks, and whales. In the seventies we didn't have internet ,so getting information was not as easy as it is now. I was living near the countryside surrounded by animals and I loved them. Instead of hunting lizards and small birds as many of my friends did, I was fighting against people who I felt were hurting helpless animals.
Time passed and as I became a teenager I loved reading books of marine life – just looking at the pictures made me so happy. One day I realized that I wanted to study Marine Biology. My parents sent me to the U.S. to study 12th grade. It was a great experience. During spring break I decided to go to California to take the entrance exam to attend Panola College (San Diego) and major in Marine Biology. I worked really hard to attend Panola College but because of different circumstances in life I couldn’t go.
I have traveled a lot, I've studied many different things, and I've worked in many different places but I always kept this deep interest and passion for the sea and nature.
One day I decided that I wanted to work in the Maritime Industry and Yachting, but as I didn't have my certificates nor experience, I started out cleaning ships and vessels. After two seasons I realized that what I really wanted was to learn how to navigate, drive and captain a ship so that one day I could work for an Oceanographic vessel so be closer to the marine life. I spent three years studying at the Spanish Merchant Navy in the Canary Islands and working on pleasure yachts in France during the summer. My first contact with Sea Shepherd was at the Canes Boat Show in the Mediterranean Coast of France, and after that day I knew that one day I would join one of their vessels. My days at the school and my job on the yachts begun to have a new sense; I was getting knowledge and experience to make my dream become true!
After that, life pointed me in the direction to find a position as Captain on the Jairo Mora in Cape Vert last year and this year as First Officer on the Farley Mowat on the Sea of Cortez.
I have nothing but gratitude and appreciation for Sea Shepherd for the great job they are doing to protect marine life all around the world and for giving me the opportunity of being part of their crew and Operation Milagro 2. Sea Shepherd is made my childhood dream true.
I grew up Edmonton, Alberta, on the Canadian prairies, but spent the past four years in Victoria, British Columbia serving as a Naval Communicator in the Royal Canadian Navy.
I realised the full importance of Sea Shepherd's work about 8 years ago when I saw "Sharkwater." Now --thanks to the support of activist friends back home, and to the experience I gained in the Navy-- I am able to contribute directly by working on a Sea Shepherd vessel.
The days have been long, and the learning curves steep, but I am thankful for the opportunity be one hundred percent committed to the oceans, the planet, and our wildlife.