Quantcast
Environmental News for a Healthier Planet and Life

Dead Humpback Calf Found Entangled in Illegal Gillnet

At dusk on Christmas Eve, crew onboard the Sea Shepherd vessel R/VMartin Sheen spotted a dead humpback calf entangled in an illegal gillnet inside the vaquita refuge in the northernmost tip of Mexico's Gulf of California. A two-year ban on the use of gillnets was issued by Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto earlier this year in an effort to protect the vaquita, one of the most endangered marine mammals in the world.

Dead baby humpback in vaquita refuge with R/V Martin Sheen. Photo credit: Sea Shepherd

After spotting the whale from a distance, the crew upon closer inspection discovered that the calf's right flipper was entangled by the gillnet. The gillnet anchored the whale down to the bottom of the sea. The tail flukes were also injured and entangled with other fishing lines. The crew of the R/V Martin Sheen alerted the government authorities with the whale’s coordinates so they could remove the net and fishing debris from the area before it kills other marine life.

The R/V Martin Sheen’s international crew is currently engaged in Operation Milagro II, working with the Mexican authorities to enforce the two-year moratorium on the use of gillnets and to protect the vaquita's habitat. Vaquita are often accidentally caught in gillnets set to catch the totoaba, another endangered species native only to the northernmost part of the Gulf of California. The totoaba’s swim bladder is smuggled from Mexico and sold on the black market in China where it is used for a soup believed to have medicinal properties. The gillnets used to poach totoaba often trap the vaquita, entangling them and causing them to drown.

Baby whale tail entangled in fishing net. Photo credit: Sea Shepherd

"It was a very sad sight to spot this dead humpback calf inside the vaquita's refuge. It proves that there is still totoaba poaching happening. There are less than 97 vaquitas surviving; any one of them could become caught in these deadly gillnets," Bastien Boudoire, first officer onboard the R/V Martin Sheen, said.

Currently, the Sea Shepherd crew is not authorized to remove the gill nets. Sea Shepherd has requested the authority from the Government of Mexico to remove gillnets in order to more effectively assist the Mexican Navy in protecting the vaquita’s habitat.

Humpback’s flipper entangled in illegal gillnet in vaquita refuge. Photo credit: Sea Shepherd

"We recognize and commend the efforts of the Mexican Navy," Oona Layolle, captain of the R/V Martin Sheen and campaign leader of Operation Milagro II, said. They are doing an outstanding job in the vaquita's refuge—extensively patrolling the area and enforcing the law here. We would like to help even further by being able to remove these nets that are a constant danger to the few surviving vaquitas. Losing even one vaquita at this point is a disaster as this species is on the brink of extinction right before our very own eyes."

By authorizing the Sea Shepherd crew to remove gill nets and other fishing line, Sea Shepherd can more effectively protect the vaquita and all marine wildlife in the Gulf of California. In the next few weeks, the R/V Martin Sheen will be joined by Sea Shepherd’s new fast patrol ship, the M/V Farley Mowat. This former U.S. Coast Guard Cutter will substantially increase Sea Shepherd’s effectiveness in patrolling the vaquita refuge and stopping the illegal use of gillnets.

YOU MIGHT ALSO LIKE

Yogurt Cups, Food Wrappers and a Shoe Found in Stomach of Dead Orca

Exclusive Interview: Researchers Remove Plastic Fork Lodged in Sea Turtle’s Nose

Why Do We Kill 100 Million Sharks Each Year?

Adidas Unveils 3D-Printed Shoe Made From Plastic Ocean Waste

EcoWatch Daily Newsletter

Pexels

By Charli Shield

At unsettling times like the coronavirus outbreak, it might feel like things are very much out of your control. Most routines have been thrown into disarray and the future, as far as the experts tell us, is far from certain.

Read More Show Less
Pie Ranch in San Mateo, California, is a highly diverse farm that has both organic and food justice certification. Katie Greaney

By Elizabeth Henderson

Farmworkers, farmers and their organizations around the country have been singing the same tune for years on the urgent need for immigration reform. That harmony turns to discord as soon as you get down to details on how to get it done, what to include and what compromises you are willing to make. Case in point: the Farm Workforce Modernization Act (H.R. 5038), which passed in the House of Representatives on Dec. 11, 2019, by a vote of 260-165. The Senate received the bill the next day and referred it to the Committee on the Judiciary, where it remains. Two hundred and fifty agriculture and labor groups signed on to the United Farm Workers' (UFW) call for support for H.R. 5038. UFW President Arturo Rodriguez rejoiced:

Read More Show Less
Sponsored
A woman walks to her train in Grand Central Terminal as New York City attempts to slow down the spread of coronavirus through social distancing on March 27. John Lamparski / Getty Images

By Julia Conley

A council representing more than 800,000 doctors across the U.S. signed a letter Friday imploring President Donald Trump to reverse his call for businesses to reopen by April 12, warning that the president's flouting of the guidance of public health experts could jeopardize the health of millions of Americans and throw hospitals into even more chaos as they fight the coronavirus pandemic.

Read More Show Less
polaristest / Flickr / CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

By Melissa Kravitz Hoeffner

Over six gallons of water are required to produce one gallon of wine. "Irrigation, sprays, and frost protection all [used in winemaking] require a lot of water," explained winemaker and sommelier Keith Wallace, who's also a professor and the founder of the Wine School of Philadelphia, the largest independent wine school in the U.S. And water waste is just the start of the climate-ruining inefficiencies commonplace in the wine industry. Sustainably speaking, climate change could be problematic for your favorite glass of wine.

Read More Show Less
Pixabay

By Rachael Link, MS, RD

Spinach is a true nutritional powerhouse, as it's rich in vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants.

Read More Show Less