On February 5th, 2017 the M/V Sam Simon came across 16 totoaba carcasses in the Gulf of California waters, in the Baha San Felipe area.
All 16 totoaba had their bladders removed or partially removed.
Prized for its swim bladder, illegal fisherman and the Mexican criminal cartels target this endangered fish just to export its swim bladder for sale on the black market in China and Hong Kong for unsubstantiated medicinal properties. There it can fetch in excess of $20,000 per kilo.
Due to this high street value, the totoaba bladder is frequently referred to as “aquatic cocaine” and is the only reason these animals are being killed.
Dangerous and illegal gill nets are strewn throughout the Gulf of California specifically to trap them.
Once the totoaba’s bladder is removed, the rest of this animal is thrown back into the water. It was this devastating sight of 16 cadavers that Sea Shepherd crewmembers found.
The totoaba is an endangered species native to the Gulf of California.
Operation Milagro III
site for more information.