Whale trapped in fishing net in endangered marine refuge

This whale rescued by Sea Shepherd Conservation Society is another collateral victim of illegal fishing. To exploit this highly threatened marine area, poachers would go to any length...

The importance of the Sea Shepherd teams

During one of their patrols in Mexican waters, the Sea Shepherd teams found this cetacean. The animal was completely entangled in a net. It was exhausted and had been wounded on its pectoral fin and tail. Two of the NGO’s boats were then called to come and help it.

The rescue operation was led by the Mexican navy. For several hours, the teams worked to disentangle the whale. After a lot of maneuvering, the animal was freed. Just a piece of net remained attached to its tail but that didn’t stop it from heading back into the deep. This incident was not insignificant: it took place within the Vaquita Refuge, a 1032 km2 area where gillnet fishing is forbidden.

The vaquitas are the most endangered cetacean on the planet, there would only be about 10 left. The “critical zone” represents the area where the vaquitas were last spotted. It’s considered high priority for the conservation, of these animals. They are victims to the same nets that trapped the humpback whale. The nets were laid by poachers trying to catch totoaba, fish that, in China, are more expensive per kilo than cocaine.

This footage once again shows the consequences of trafficking which is ravaging this region of Mexico where cartels threaten environmental activists. Sea Shepherd claims that the poachers don’t hesitate to attack their boats. In 6 years, the Sea Shepherd teams have removed over 1,000 items of illegal fishing equipment from the Vaquita Refuge and have saved around 4,000 animals.