Today on the show we have a very special interview to share with the captain of the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society’s Operation Milagro, Oona Isabelle Layolle.

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This interview is particularly special for a few reasons – first of all it was recorded in person, on board the R.V. Martin Sheen, one of two boats operated by Sea Shepherd that have been patrolling the waters of the Northern gulf of California since this past fall in an attempt to stop illegal gillnet fishing and save the vaquita.  This interview is also special because of the extreme urgency of this issue.  As you may have heard of you’ve been following this issue, three dead vaquitas have been recovered in the past month, all of which have been confirmed to have died from entanglement with gillnets.  With a population that is likely at 50 or fewer individuals, finding three dead animals is a big deal – and it’s likely that these aren’t the only recent casualties of illegal gill net fishing.

Screen Shot 2016-04-05 at 10.44.36 PMTwo of these three dead vaquitas were found floating out at sea by the Sea Shepherd crew, highlighting the importance of the work that they are doing in the Northern Gulf.  The Sea Shepherd Conservation Society was founded in the late 1970s by Paul Watson and has become infamous for it’s often aggressive tactics towards addressing marine conservation issues.  The group’s current mission to save the vaquita, dubbed Operation Milagro (which means Miracle in Spanish), is something of a break from that aggressive approach, in that they have established a cooperative relationship with the Mexican Navy.

Operation Milagro has operated two boats within the vaquita refuge since this past fall, and the primary mission has been to assist the Navy in enforcing Mexico’s ban on the use of gill nets throughout the area.  Their presence in the Gulf has been extremely important to vaquita conservation efforts, and it is difficult to imagine what this situation would look like without their involvement over the past year.



Sea Shepherd’s Operation Milagro

Souls of the Vermilion Sea blog

Operation Milagro v-log


Listen to the podcast episode here:

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