By Sean Olson

Sean Olsen. Photo: Carolina A CastroI had no idea what to expect when I made the decision to work with Sea Shepherd. Some people said that they were pirates, some called them eco-terrorists, and others dismissed them as “dirty hippies.”  Looking back, I suppose that all of those groups sounded good to me, so I caught a plane to Mexico to save a porpoise on the brink of extinction, and maybe, something else.

On my first day here we freed a humpback whale that was caught in a fishing net, two weeks later we pulled up a similar net that had trapped and killed both a white shark, and a bottlenose dolphin. In the few weeks between, we removed a dozen illegal nets, several long lines, and resuscitated quite a few dying animals.  

The Vaquita porpoise has taken the worst hit from the nets, it is estimated that there are less than one hundred Vaquita left in the world.  I think of every net we remove as a small relief, a slight breath towards the greater breeze. It can be hard work. The nets are full of and all manner of sea life and rotten fish; and these missions usually take place in the middle of the night on very little sleep. Despite all this though, the work somehow doesn’t seem that bad, maybe it’s because of our sense community, or a belief in what we are doing, but with Sea Shepherd, it seems that some rather miserable jobs, when done with good company, can be more than tolerable.

Since I have been onboard, I haven’t seen any piracy, and eco-terrorism is such a relative term, as for the hippies; well, it seems strange to call one that when you see them on an industrial machine that is full of welding, sparks, diesel smoke, and all the while pushing 5000 horsepower. But then again, maybe they are hippies, hippies in the original sense of the word; a group of like-minded, yet independently thinking people who love nature and genuinely believe that their actions can change the world. Isn’t that how it all started? What I see here is a group of passionate and enthusiastic human beings, who care deeply for this planet and all its creatures, but they are not sitting around and talking about it, they are taking action. We are using the tools of our time to combat that which is killing the Earth's greatest treasures, and right now, time is of the essence.

The image of the white shark and the dolphin dying together in the same net is telling. These two animals perfectly represent the duality of the ocean, and in doing so, they represent the paradox of the human experience as well. The dolphin is playful and intelligent, a companion that is easily loved by humanity; while the Great White inspires fear and admiration for its strength, size, and of course-its teeth.

The ocean is the last frontier, the place where the wildness isn’t tamed, and the edge is still out there. That is why I am here. I don’t want to live in a world where the great white isn’t down in the deep, inspiring imagination, wonder, and fear; or in a world that doesn’t have the dolphin to rescue us from that fear, to inspire joy and help us all to laugh like children again. The natural world is us-every part of us, we need it physically, emotionally, and spiritually, but right now, it needs us too. That is why I am proud of what Sea Shepherd is doing. I feel that wildlife conservation is a noble goal, but sometimes it doesn’t have the necessary impact--Sea Shepherd is conservation with teeth.

Dead dolphin. Photo: Carolina A Castro

Dead dolphin. Photo: Carolina A Castro

Sean Olsen. Photo: Carolina A Castro

Photos: Carolina A Castro

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Milagro III

Op Milagro V Episode 9 - NEW KID ON THE BLOCK
Watch the new episode of Operation Milagro's web-series. Share it with your friends and stay tuned every Wednesday morning for new episodes. #OpMilagro is Sea Shepherd's campaign to protect the most endangered marine mammal in the world - Mexico's V...
57 Dead Sharks In One Gillnet Found by Sea Shepherd
The MV White Holly finds 57 dead sharks, along with dozens of other species in the Upper Gulf Of California while on Operation Milagro V. Help save a species: https://goo.gl/wJqxyh
Op Milagro V Episode 8 - GHOSTBUSTERS
Watch the new episode of Operation Milagro's web-series. Share it with your friends and stay tuned every Wednesday morning for new episodes. #OpMilagro is Sea Shepherd's campaign to protect the most endangered marine mammal in the world - Mexico's V...
Op Milagro V Episode 6 - RIDE OR DIE
Op Milagro V Episode 6 - RIDE OR DIE Watch the new episode of Operation Milagro's web-series. Share it with your friends and stay tuned every Wednesday morning for new episodes. #OpMilagro is Sea Shepherd's campaign to protect the most endangered m...
Op Milagro V Episode 7 - TOP GUN
Op Milagro V Episode 7 - TOP GUN Watch the new episode of Operation Milagro's web-series. Share it with your friends and stay tuned every Wednesday morning for new episodes. #OpMilagro is Sea Shepherd's campaign to protect the most Endangered marin...
Sea Shepherd's White Holly joins the fight to save the vaquita porpoise
The M/V White Holly has arrived in the Upper Gulf of California. The M/V Farley Mowat and The M/V Sharpie celebrated the arrival of the White Holly by performing a water salute! Three Sea Shepherd ships fighting to protect the most endangered marin...
Op Milagro V Episode 5 - "WHALE WARS"
Op Milagro V Episode 5 - "WHALE WARS" Watch the new episode of Operation Milagro's web-series. Share it with your friends and stay tuned every Wednesday morning for new episodes. #OpMilagro is Sea Shepherd's campaign to protect the most endangered m...
Op Milagro V Episode 4 - TWO SHIPS ONE TEAM
Watch the new episode of Operation Milagro's web-series. Share it with your friends and stay tuned every Wednesday morning for new episodes. #OpMilagro is Sea Shepherd's campaign to protect the most endangered marine mammal in the world - Mexico's V...
Op Milagro V Episode 3 - RIGHT BEFORE OUR EYES
Watch the new episode of Operation Milagro's web-series. Share it with your friends and stay tuned every Wednesday morning for new episodes. #OpMilagro is Sea Shepherd's campaign to protect the most endangered marine mammal in the world - Mexico's V...
Op Milagro V Episode 2 - WORTH ITS WEIGHT IN GOLD
Watch the new episode of Operation Milagro's web-series. Share it with your friends and stay tuned every Wednesday morning for new episodes. #OpMilagro is Sea Shepherd's campaign to protect the most Endangered marine mammal in the world - Mexico's V...
Op Milagro V Episode 1 - HOUSE OF THE VAQUITA
We are happy to announce that the #OpMilagro Vlog (Web-series) is back! Join the Sea Shepherd crew and watch our work to save the most endangered marine mammal in the world - Mexico's vaquita porpoise. Watch all episodes at http://tinyurl.com/y2bjs4...
SEA SHEPHERD DISCOVERS DEAD VAQUITA CAUGHT IN GILLNET
On March 12th, 2019 Sea Shepherd ship The M/V Farley Mowat crew discovered a dead vaquita trapped in a totoaba gillnet. Recently, scientists revealed there are at most 22 vaquitas left in the Sea of Cortez. This is a devastating discovery, but Sea S...
IT REALLY IS A MATTER OF LIFE, DEATH, AND EXTINCTION.
IT REALLY IS A MATTER OF LIFE, DEATH, AND EXTINCTION. We must not and we cannot allow the poachers to intimidate and threaten us. We have secured some defensive gear but we still need more. We are halfway there. Please help us achieve our goal of ke...
FULL VIDEO - SEA SHEPHERD ATTACKED BY POACHERS Jan 31, 2019
FULL VIDEO - On January 31st, 2019, Sea Shepherd’s MV Farley Mowat was attacked by poachers while patrolling the Vaquita Refuge for Operation Milagro. For English subtitles click on CC, on the bottom right. Posing as fishermen, these criminals la...
SEA SHEPHERD SHIP’S WINDOWS SMASHED AND HULL SET ON FIRE BY POACHERS
Hope shattered for vaquita survival as Sea Shepherd ship violently attacked by poachers in the Gulf of California, suffering damage from projectiles and Molotov cocktails while protecting world’s most endangered marine mammal: the vaquita porpoise....
SEA SHEPHERD Crew Update on Attack in Vaquita Refuge
SEA SHEPHERD CREW UPDATE ON ATTACK IN VAQUITA REFUGE Help us bring a second vessel to Op Milagro and give hope for the survival of a species. DONATE NOW at: https://goo.gl/1B931Z
SEA SHEPHERD SHIP ATTACKED INSIDE VAQUITA REFUGE
Sea Shepherd Vessel M/V Farley Mowat was conducting maritime patrols inside the Vaquita Refuge in the Upper Gulf of California, and had recovered three illegal gillnets that morning, when at 1:00 PM the crew noticed approximately 35 skiffs operating ...
Op Milagro V - Saving the First Totoaba of the Season and More...
Saving the First Totoaba of the Season and More... Take a look at some busy days on The M/V Farley Mowat The Sea Shepherd crew has been working day and night to protect the vaquita refuge from poachers. This season is already starting to shape up l...
Op Milagro V - Sea Shepherd Finds First Totoaba Nets of the Season
Operation Milagro V started a few months ago and Sea Shepherd has been removing Ghost Nets and other kinds of illegal fishing gear from vaquita refuge. On the night of 10th of December while patrolling the vaquita refuge, the crew of Sea Shepherd's...
Op Milagro V - Update Video 2
Take a look at the life of the crew onboard The M/V Farley Mowat and Sea Shepherd's work to protect the vaquita porpoise. Support our mission at: https://goo.gl/wJqxyh
#OpMilagro V Video Update
#OpMilagro V Video Update. Check out the life aboard The M/V Farley Mowat. This is a compilation from the early days of campaign. Enjoy. Support our mission to save the most endangered marine mammal in the world at: https://goo.gl/rWY1cM
SEA SHEPHERD JOINS SEARCH AND RECOVERY OF MEXICAN NAVY HELICOPTER
During the late afternoon of Saturday, October 20th, 2018, a Mexican Navy helicopter crashed into the ocean while engaged in anti-poaching patrols over the Vaquita Refuge in the Upper Gulf of California (a.k.a. Sea of Cortez). The reason for the cras...
Sea Shepherd's Operation Milagro V Launch
#BREAKING #OpMilagro V started! Sea Shepherd Initiates Early Patrols to Safeguard Survival of Critically Endangered Vaquita Porpoise Sea Shepherd vessel The M/V Farley Mowat has arrived in the Upper Gulf of California to start Operation Milagro earl...
Sea Shepherd Recycled Dive Weights
Sea Shepherd recycled Branded Dive Weights are AVAILABLE NOW at: https://shop.paulwatson.com They were made from illegal fishing nets captured in the Sea of Cortez. Limited amount available so get them while you can in 2lb, 3lb and 4lb. This ensure...