Farley MowatFarley MowatAfter wrapping up a three-month operation (Milagro II) in the Gulf of California, Sea Shepherd Conservation Society’s M/V Farley Mowat will be docking at Marina del Rey this week in California. The conservation organization will host free ship tours all weekend, aboard the M/V Farley Mowat which start on May 14 and 15 for the general public from 10:00 a.m. - 6:00 p.m.

Sea Shepherd is the leading direct-action marine conservation non-profit and star of the former hit Animal Planet TV series, Whale Wars. Operation Milagro II is a campaign to fight the looming extinction of the vaquita porpoise, world’s most endangered marine mammal. With an estimate of less than 100 surviving vaquita, Sea Shepherd ships, the R/V Martin Sheen and M/V Farley Mowat patrolled the northernmost part of the Gulf of California in Mexico to locate and remove illegal fishing gear that entangle and drown the vaquita.

  • Event address: Burton Chase Park, 13650 Mindanao Way, Marina del Rey, 90292
  • Parking information: There is metered parking on the entry grounds of Burton W. Chace Park which has a maximum limit of 90 minutes. There are three large LA County parking lots on Mindanao Way towards the entrance to Burton W. Chace Park and all of those lots provide parking for a flat fee as posted, with no daily time limit. These official parking facilities are marked as LA County Parking Lots #4, #5, and #77.
  • Date and Time: May 14 - 15 at 10:00 a.m. until 6:00 p.m.

The general public is invited to tour the M/V Farley Mowat on May 14 and 15th from 10:00 a.m. – 6:00 p.m. In addition to the ship tour, Sea Shepherd crew will share information about the organization’s work to defend ocean wildlife and habitats worldwide, along with their first-hand experiences as crewmembers. Sea Shepherd will also accept much-needed donations to fund the organization’s wildlife missions.

Farley Mowat crew. Photo: Carolina A CastroFarley Mowat crew. Photo: Carolina A CastroThe M/V Farley Mowat is a 110-foot former Coast Guard Cutter, purchased from the U.S. government in 2015. Sea Shepherd supporter John Paul DeJoria—co-founder of professional salon beauty products John Paul Mitchell Systems—generously sponsored the purchase of the M/V Farley Mowat. The purchase was done in conjunction with a bequest left to Sea Shepherd by Sea Shepherd International Chair and famed Canadian writer and environmentalist Farley Mowat, who passed away in 2014.

DeJoria, who supports charities that promote environmental sustainability, social responsibility and the protection of animals, made it possible for the Farley Mowat to be outfitted as a high speed anti-poaching patrol boat. The vessel was recently working with the Martin Sheen on Milagro II in Mexico. The vessel will now move to Costa Rica to continue anti-poaching work at Cocos Island. The Farley Mowat recently saved the life of a Humpback whale, found entangled in a gillnet in the Gulf of California. 

In February 2015, Sea Shepherd launched Operation Milagro with its R/V Martin Sheen to investigate the plight of the vaquita porpoise and identify ways to intervene and protect the animals. The R/V Martin Sheen remained in the Gulf of California until May 2015, documenting the use of gillnets—nets that indiscriminately catch any animal that swims into them—as well as building relationships with marine biologists and other non-governmental organizations. In April 2015, Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto announced a two-year ban on the use of all gillnets in the northern Gulf of California. Shortly thereafter, Sea Shepherd documented the first live vaquita since 2013 and began building a partnership with the Mexican government to protect the vaquita. 

In November 2015, Sea Shepherd launched Milagro II and dispatched the R/V Martin Sheen and its M/V Farley Mowat to remove illegal gillnets and longlines set to catch the totoaba, a fish similar in size to the vaquita. The totoaba are another critically endangered species targeted by poachers specifically to sell their swim bladders on the black markets in Hong Kong and China. Dubbed “aquatic cocaine,” totoaba swim bladders can sell for more than $20,000 per kilogram in China as a status symbol and for their alleged medicinal properties. Many of the bladders are smuggled through the United States. 

In addition to removing illegal fishing gear, Sea Shepherd Conservation Society used aerial drones to document and report poaching activities to the Mexican authorities. 

During the course of Operation Milagro II, Sea Shepherd removed 42 illegal gillnets and 16 longlines. The campaign saved one humpback whale, seven totoaba, fifty-five rays, dozens of sharks, and countless other marine animals that otherwise would have been caught. Unfortunately, the illegal fishing gear claimed the lives of three vaquitas, dozens of sharks, a four-meter long great white shark, as well as many totoabas, rays, and dolphins.  

Sea Shepherd plans to return to the Gulf of California in November, 2016 to continue the fight against illegal fishing and to expand efforts to protect the vaquita. The use of gillnets and longlines has been devastating to the biological diversity of the Gulf of California, often considered one of the most biologically diverse marine areas in the world. 

Fans unable to attend the ship tours in LA, can still help in many ways. Click below for details.

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Crew of the Martin Sheen. Photo: Carolina A CastroCrew of the Martin Sheen. Photo: Carolina A Castro
Captain Oona Layolle. Photo: Carolina A CastroCaptain Oona Layolle. Photo: Carolina A Castro
Operation Milagro II
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Operation Milagro II
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