MV Farley Mowat gives illegal net to Navy net retrieval navy. Photo: Sea Shepherd/Carolina A CastroMV Farley Mowat gives illegal net to Navy net retrieval navy. Photo: Sea ShepherdOn January 15, 2016, the crew of Sea Shepherd Conservation Society's vessel the M/V Farley Mowat removed an illegal gillnet in the Gulf of California's vaquita porpoise habitat.  This is the first gillnet recovered during Operation Milagro II since the Mexican government authorized Sea Shepherd Conservation Society to remove gillnets and other illegal fishing gear.

Sea Shepherd launched Operation Milagro II in November 2015 with the objective of stopping the extinction of the endangered vaquita porpoise.  For the past seven weeks, Sea Shepherd Conservation Society's research vessel the R/V Martin Sheen has patrolled the vaquita habitat to stop poachers from deploying gillnets that are known to indiscriminatingly catch any species of fish or shark and drown marine animals and birds.  The M/V Farley Mowat just arrived in the Gulf of California to assist the R/V Martin Sheen.

The vaquita are the smallest of cetaceans and only inhabit the northernmost part of the Gulf of California.  They are one of the most endangered marine mammals.  Scientists estimate that there are less than 97 surviving vaquita.  Although all gillnets are dangerous for vaquita, the greatest threats to vaquita are the gillnets used to catch the totoaba fish due to the size of the opening of the mesh of the nets.  As a similar sized animal, vaquita who swim into these gillnets become entangled and drown.  Both the totoaba and vaquita are listed as endangered and protected in Mexico.  However, the black market trade in the totoaba's fish bladder drives the poaching of the fish and is driving the extinction of the vaquita.   In an effort to save the vaquita, in April 2015, the Mexican government enacted a two year ban on the use of gillnets in a 13,000 square kilometer area covering the entire northern part of the Gulf of California

Hammerhead killed by gillnet net retrieval. Photo: Sea Shepherd/Logan KananHammerhead killed by gillnet net retrieval. Photo: Sea Shepherd/Logan KananThe M/V Farley Mowat spotted the illegal gillnets on its first day patrolling the vaquita habitat.  A former United States Coast Guard Cutter, the M/V Farley Mowat is a fast interceptor ship, designed for coastal patrols and capable of quickly locating and approaching with speed.  The ship is also equipped with a small rigid inflatable speed boat, a crane, and a newly constructed net removal device.

“With my experience chasing poaching vessels in the Southern Ocean and Mediterranean Sea, as well as patrolling the Gulf of California in early 2015, I am confident that the R/V Martin Sheen and the M/V Farley Mowat would be able to patrol the gillnet-free zone to help ensure that gillnets are not used,” commented Campaign leader Captain Oona Layolle, captain of the M/V Farley Mowat.

Upon spotting the gillnet, the crew of the M/V Farley Mowat immediately began retrieving it and the Mexican Navy was notified.  For more than six hours, the crew of the M/V Farley Mowat worked alongside the Mexican Navy to retrieve the nets.

Captain Layolle continued, “With the help of the Mexican Navy, we were able to remove approximately one and a half miles of gillnets and release twelve dogfish sharks.  Unfortunately, the gillnet was in the water for at least several days and killed approximately sixty dogfish sharks, as well as three species of juvenile sharks, including two species of protected hammerhead sharks.  Sea lions were also seen eating totoaba from the gillnet.”

Despite the two year ban on the use of gillnets, enforcement in such a large area is difficult. With its two vessels patrolling the Gulf of California, Sea Shepherd Conservation Society hopes for the miracle of the survival of the vaquita porpoise.

MV Farley Mowat gives illegal net to Navy net retrieval navy. Photo: Sea Shepherd/Carolina A CastroMV Farley Mowat gives illegal net to Navy net retrieval navy. Photo: Sea Shepherd
Sea Shepherd crew and Mexican Navy retrieve gillnet net retrieval navy. Photo: Sea Shepherd/Carolina A CastroSea Shepherd crew and Mexican Navy retrieve gillnet net retrieval navy. Photo: Sea Shepherd
Operation Milagro II
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Sea Shepherd
Operation Milagro II: Vlog 11 - Big Fish
Operation Milagro II: Vlog 11 - Big Fish
This week the crew of Sea Shepherd Conservation Society's ships The Farley Mowat and The Martin Sheen find and retrieve an illegal totoaba bass net from the critically endangered vaquita marina's habitat Watch all episodes at: http://www.seashepherd.org/milagro2/multimedia/videos.html ‪#‎OpMilag...
Operation Milagro II: Vlog 10 - Light up the Dark
Operation Milagro II: Vlog 10 - Light up the Dark
Actor Gregg Lowe crews with Sea Shepherd to help us protect the vaquita. The M/V Farley Mowat lights up the vaquita refuge and deters poacher from laying deadly nets in the vaquita marina's habitat. Watch all episodes at: http://seashepherd.org/milagro2/multimedia
Sea Shepherd Wildlife - False Killer Whales
Sea Shepherd Wildlife - False Killer Whales
The first video of our new series "Sea Shepherd Wildlife". This episode is about one of the lesser know large dolphins - The False Killer Whales. Learn more about these beautiful creatures with the Sea Shepherd crew. Share it with your friends. Video by Carolina A. Castro Narration by Nicole D'Entr...
Sea Shepherd Removes gillnet from Endangered Vaquita Habitat
Sea Shepherd Removes gillnet from Endangered Vaquita Habitat
Sea Shepherd Removes gillnet from Endangered Vaquita Habitat.
Operation Milagro II: Vlog 05 - Gillnet Damage
Operation Milagro II: Vlog 05 - Gillnet Damage
Join the crew of the R/V Martin Sheen as they witness the damage a gillnet can cause to marine wildlife while patrolling the endangered vaquita's refuge in Mexico.
From Taiji to Tanks: A Look at the Barren Lives of Captive Dolphins
From Taiji to Tanks: A Look at the Barren Lives of Captive Dolphins
In November 2015, Sea Shepherd's Cove Guardians observed the captive cetaceans at Japan's Adventure World.Though this marine park has dolphins from Taiji, the suffering behind cetacean captivity looks much the same around the world. To learn how you can support Operation Henkaku and help us break t...
Operation Milagro II: Vlog 03 - Sailing with Dolphins
Operation Milagro II: Vlog 03 - Sailing with Dolphins
The crew of Sea Shepherd's research sailing vessel, the R/V Martin Sheen, sails in search of the smallest cetacean in the world, the endangered vaquita marina porpoise.
M/V Farley Mowat Crew Prepares for Operation Milagro II
M/V Farley Mowat Crew Prepares for Operation Milagro II
Join the crew of the M/V Farley Mowat as they prepare the ship to embark on its maiden Sea Shepherd campaign - Operation Milagro II, Fall 2015 Vaquita Porpoise Defense Campaign. With an estimated 97 individuals remaining, the endangered vaquita is facing the very real threat of extinction. Please ...
Operation Milagro II: Vlog 01 - Turtle Rescue
Operation Milagro II: Vlog 01 - Turtle Rescue
The Vlog from the Gulf of California 01 - Turtle Rescue. Follow the crew of the Research Vessel, the R/V Martin Sheen, as they patrol the upper Gulf of California in Mexico - to protect the most endangered marine mammal in the world, the vaquita marina porpoise.
Taiji, Japan - Pilot whale tethered and drowned
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A wounded pilot whale, visibly bleeding and barely able to stay above the surface of the water, is tethered and drowned in the cove by Taiji's killers, after briefly escaping from under the tarps where its pod is being slaughtered.
Operation Milagro II Vaquita Defense Campaign
Operation Milagro II Vaquita Defense Campaign
Sea Shepherd Conservation Society returns to Mexico to protect the critically endangered vaquita marina in the only waters on Earth this petite porpoise calls home. Working in partnership with the Mexican government, Sea Shepherd will strive to bring about a miracle for the endangered vaquita before...
Sea Shepherd Central America Goodwill Campaign for the Pacific
Sea Shepherd Central America Goodwill Campaign for the Pacific
A look at Sea Shepherd Central America's journey of research and observation to Cocos Island, a world-renowned marine sanctuary located 350 miles offshore. The goal of the goodwill campaign is to promote awareness for the protection of species that inhabit the Central Pacific.
Gregg Lowe Supports Sea Shepherd
Gregg Lowe Supports Sea Shepherd
Actor Gregg Lowe, star of "X-Men: Days of Future Past," discusses the importance of Sea Shepherd's work to protect the oceans, why he is vegan for the planet and for all species, and his desire to join a Sea Shepherd campaign to defend ocean wildlife on the frontlines. Video by: Reece Pickering
Operation Henkaku 2015 Dolphin Defense Campaign
Operation Henkaku 2015 Dolphin Defense Campaign
Sea Shepherd's Cove Guardians are gearing up for the sixth season of our Taiji Dolphin Defense Campaign. As we return to the cove to expose the brutal capture and slaughter of dolphins and small whales, stand with us! The dolphins need you! To volunteer as a Cove Guardian, please email groundcrew@s...
12 Defendants, One Movement. Warning Graphic Footage.
12 Defendants, One Movement. Warning Graphic Footage.
“We were one small boat and five bodies against 500 people on the beach and 50 boats pushing…but there’s no reason not to fight.” On August 12, 61 pilot whales were slaughtered on the killing beach of Sandavágur in the Faroe Islands. With the odds stacked against them, in the face of adve...
Operation Jairo Crew Protect Nesting Leatherback Turtle
Operation Jairo Crew Protect Nesting Leatherback Turtle
Just feet from where they were attacked not a month before, Sea Shepherd's Operation Jairo volunteers defend a nesting leatherback turtle from poachers on Pacuare Beach in Costa Rica. All 63 eggs are now being protected in a hatchery, where they will have the best chance of survival out of the hands...
#StandUp250 Corsica (France) - Xavier Figarella
#StandUp250 Corsica (France) - Xavier Figarella
"They asked me, 'do you want cuffs' and I said 'Yes, it's better.' Because inside it was like an explosion.” Xavier is one of 7 Sea Shepherd crewmembers arrested in the Faroe Islands since July 20. Their 'crime'? Defending pilot whales from slaughter. For more information on how you can #StandUp...
Meet the Crew: Operation Jairo – Honduras
Meet the Crew: Operation Jairo – Honduras
Meet some of the Sea Shepherd volunteers in Honduras for Operation Jairo, Sea Shepherd's 2015 Sea Turtle Defense Campaign! The crew hails from all over the world, from countries including the United States, Australia, Norway, and France. These volunteers work tirelessly to patrol the beaches in Hond...
#StandUp250 Italy - Marianna Baldo
#StandUp250 Italy - Marianna Baldo
“In the same way that they think they …. have the right to kill these animals, that are wild animals, I have exactly the same right to save them.” Marianna is one of 7 Sea Shepherd crewmembers arrested in the Faroe Islands since July 20. Their 'crime'? Defending pilot whales from slaughter. ...
The Trial Begins
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Video update from Tórshavn court this morning as five Sea Shepherd crewmembers stand trial for StandingUp for the pilot whales of the Faroe Islands. Take action: http://www.seashepherd.org/standup250
Denmark's Shame
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The slaughter of cetaceans is outlawed throughout the European Union, including Denmark, in accordance with Appendix II of the Convention on the Conservation of European Wildlife and Natural Habitats (Bern Convention). However, in the Faroe Islands, the slaughter of pilot whales and other small ce...
#StandUp250 Belgium - Christophe Bondue
#StandUp250 Belgium - Christophe Bondue
"We're just here ... to try to save lives." Christophe is one of 7 Sea Shepherd crewmembers arrested in the Faroe Islands since July 20. Their 'crime'? Defending pilot whales from slaughter. For more information on how you can #StandUp250 for the pilot whales of the Faroe Islands, and for Sea Shephe...
#StandUp250 South Africa - Rosie Kunneke
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Mass Slaughter Of Pilot Whales In The Faroe Islands. WARNING. GRAPHIC
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WARNING: GRAPHIC. Mass Slaughter Of Pilot Whales In The Faroe Islands. Sea Shepherd Crew Arrested. On July 23 2015, approximately 250 pilot whales were slaughtered on the killing beaches of the Faroe Islands. The slaughters, known by the traditional Faroese term ‘grindadráp, took place in two se...
Meet the Crew: Operation Jairo – Costa Rica
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