Quantcast

Humpback Whale Entangled in Illegal Gillnet Saved by Sea Shepherd Crew

The crew of Sea Shepherd's research vessel R/V Martin Sheen spotted last week a humpback whale entangled in a gillnet in the Vaquita Refuge in the Gulf of California in Baja California, Mexico. While Captain Oona Layolle, campaign leader and captain of the M/V Farley Mowat, notified the Mexican Navy and the Federal Attorney for Environmental Protection (PROFEPA), the crew began the rescue operation. The whale was estimated to be 35 feet long and crews from both vessels worked to free the whale by cutting the gillnet off the whale's head and torso.

Sea Shepherd crew and Mexican Navy save entangled humpback whale. Photo credit: Sea Shepherd

This is not the first humpback whale entangled in an illegal gillnet found by Sea Shepherd crew. On Christmas Eve, the crew of the R/V Martin Sheen spotted a humpback whale weighed down by a gillnet. Upon further investigation, the crew determined that the humpback whale was a calf and was already dead. Sea Shepherd then sought permission from the Mexican government to be able to begin removing gillnets. Permission was granted on Dec. 31, 2015.

Sea Shepherd's newest vessel, the M/V Farley Mowat, a retired U.S. Coast Guard interceptor ship, joined the R/V Martin Sheen, in January 2016. On its first day of Operation Milagro, the crew of the M/V Farley Mowat spotted an illegal gillnet and spent six hours removing it. The Mexican Navy were notified and seized the illegal gillnet. Since then, the crews of both vessels have developed net retrieval devices to trail behind the R/V Martin Sheen and the M/V Farley Mowat's speedboat the Wolf. The use of these devices has already resulted in removal of seven gillnets and three longlines in just the past few weeks. Three totoaba, seven rays, one whale and dozens of juvenile sharks have been saved by the recent removals of illegal fishing equipment. This total does not taken into account the countless animals who will not become trapped and die in the illegal gillnets and illegal fishing lines.

The crew of the M/V Farley Mowat was recently joined by Survivorman Les Stroud. Upon assisting in freeing the whale, he commented, “This is true conservation in action. Today, we were able to save the whale and remove another illegal gillnet. It is an honor to be a crew member with Sea Shepherd Conservation Society. Cutting that net and freeing the whale was a life changing experience."

In April 2015, President Enrique Peña Nieto announced a two year ban on the use of gillnets in the Gulf of California. The intent was to protect the vaquita porpoise, the world's most endangered marine mammal. Vaquita are the unintended victims of gillnets used to catch the totoaba bass, another endangered species. The totoaba are targeted for their swim bladders for sale on the black markets in Asian. Vaquita are native only to the northernmost part of the Gulf of California.

Read page 1

Survirman Les Stroud helps Sea Shepherd save the entangled humback whale. Photo credit: Sea Shepherd

Whale caught in net. Photo credit: Sea Shepherd

Sea Shepherd crew and Mexican Navy save entangled humpback whale. Photo credit: Sea Shepherd

Oona holds up a piece of the totoaba net in which the whale was entangled. Photo credit: Sea Shepherd

Whale entangled in net. Photo credit: Sea Shepherd

Whale entangled in net. Photo credit: Sea Shepherd

YOU MIGHT ALSO LIKE

Sustainability Management in Practice: Student Work Helps Establish Conservation Act in Palau

Horrible! This Guy Drags Shark From Sea Just to Pose for Photos

Solar-Powered Vacuum Could Suck Up 24,000 Tons of Ocean Plastic Every Year

Baby Dolphin Dies After Being Passed Around by Tourists Taking Selfies

Sponsored
PeopleImages / E+ / Getty Images

By Daniel Ross

Hurricane Florence, which battered the U.S. East Coast last September, left a trail of ruin and destruction estimated to cost between $17 billion and $22 billion. Some of the damage was all too visible—smashed homes and livelihoods. But other damage was less so, like the long-term environmental impacts in North Carolina from hog waste that spilled out over large open-air lagoons saturated in the rains.

Hog waste can contain potentially dangerous pathogens, pharmaceuticals and chemicals. According to the state's Department of Environmental Quality, as of early October nearly 100 such lagoons were damaged, breached or were very close to being so, the effluent from which can seep into waterways and drinking water supplies.

Read More Show Less
This picture taken on May 21, 2018 shows discarded climbing equipment and rubbish scattered around Camp 4 of Mount Everest. Decades of commercial mountaineering have turned Mount Everest into the world's highest rubbish dump as an increasing number of big-spending climbers pay little attention to the ugly footprint they leave behind. DOMA SHERPA / AFP / Getty Images

China has closed its Everest base camp to tourists because of a buildup of trash on the world's tallest mountain.

Read More Show Less
Sponsored
Berezko / iStock / Getty Images

The last thing on your mind in February is gardening. But this is prime time to prepare for a very important task: planting fruit trees.

Read More Show Less
Researchers tested the eggs of Arctic northern fulmers like these in Nunavut, Canada. Fiona Paton / Flickr

By Madison Dapcevich

Plastics have been recorded in every corner of the world, from the remote icy waters of Antarctica to the bellies of deep-sea fishes. Now, preliminary findings presented at this year's American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) annual meeting in Washington, DC suggest that bird eggs from the high Arctic—one of the most remote wildernesses on the planet—show evidence of contamination from chemicals used in plastics.

Read More Show Less
The Bramble Cay melomys. State of Queensland / CC BY 3.0 AU

A small Australian rat that lived on a 12 acre island in the Great Barrier Reef has become the first mammal to go extinct primarily because of human-caused climate change, the Australian Government confirmed Monday.

The Bramble Cay melomys was first declared extinct after a 2014 search on Bramble Cay, its native island in the Torres Strait, between Queensland, Australia and Papua New Guinea, according to a 2016 report by the University of Queensland and the Queensland government.

Read More Show Less