According to National Geographic, environmental warriors from the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society (SSCS) recently took aim at poachers preying upon the totoaba population in the Gulf of California by using night-vision drones equipped with cameras to catch the poachers in the act.
"Using our night vision drone, Sea Shepherd was able to capture never before seen footage of totoaba poachers operating under the cover of darkness," Roy Sasano, said drone pilot and SSCS executive officer in a statement released this month.
"Now the poachers know they cannot act with impunity," added Sasano.
The poachers had been using huge custom made gillnets to take endangered totoabas — according to National Geographic. In the process, they were also capturing small porpoises named vaquitas, sharks, whales and other aquatic species as "incidental catches." Totoabas are only found in the Gulf of California and, according to National Public Radio can grow to "the size of a football player." They sought for their swim bladders and used by Chinese marketers for soup-making and medicinal purposes.
According to the April statement issued by SSCS, its vessel — M/Y Farley Mowat — "hid in the darkness looking for illegal activity" and dispatched Predator drones as soon as it spotted the poachers. They immediately dropped their gillnets and fled the area but not before the SSCS was had transmitted their coordinates to the Mexican Navy.
Mexico's government gave the SSCS "permission to police gillnets in the Gulf of California" in January 2016, the statement said. It has since removed 40 of the devices, "saving untold numbers of vaquita, totoaba, whales, sharks, dolphins, and other marine wildlife."
The Sun Bay Paper is committed to helping the SSCS and once conducted a live interview by satellite phone uplink while Captain Paul Watson and others SSCS volunteers were under fire by Japanese whalers in the Antarctic. Sun Bay Publisher Carl Conley conducted the interview and has continued to keep abreast of SSCS activities. To learn more, visit its website: www.seashepherdglobal.org