|Friday, December 31, 2010|
A Deep sea Discovery
We confiscated illegal Patagonian toothfish fishing gear onboard the Bob Barker last week. We had to pull in two kilometers of line just to reach the gillnet! As the net came over the Bob Barker’s bow, I reached over to pull off any of the animals that may have survived the long journey to the surface. First, there was a tiny starfish. As I held it in my hand, I sensed its little feelers move and I knew it was still alive. I gently returned it into the ocean. Next, I carefully untangled a larger object from the net. It was a piece of rock from the seafloor far below but on top of the rather ordinary palm-size rock, was a breathtaking scene like an underwater bonsai garden. There were miniature pink coral trees, delicate white ferns, a tiny sea urchin no bigger than my fingernail nestled between the coral, and a smooth, dime-size pink starfish positioned just on top of the rock. I didn't have much time to dwell on these magnificent deep-sea treasures as we had a long night ahead of us to finish confiscating the illegal fishing gear.
What was most alarming was not that there was just illegal fishing in the Southern Ocean’s waters, but that there was any fishing happening at all. There are so few fish left in the oceans in general, it is absurd that the (illegal) industrial fishing fleets have to come all the way to the bottom of the planet to steal the last ones, destroying the deep sea habitat in the process. Precisely why we have traveled here to protect the last of the great whales from a criminal whaling operation.
The stakes in our battle to save the oceans don't get any higher than this season. The stakes are life versus death, existence versus extinction. I joined to Sea Shepherd to save wildlife and the oceans and this is exactly what we are doing.