New ship strengthens Sea Shepherd’s effort to save the Vaquita
Sea Shepherd has received a generous vessel donation from philanthropist Benoit Vulliet which will enable the marine conservation group to be more effective in their fight to save the most endangered marine mammal in the world, Mexico’s critically endangered vaquita porpoise.
The newest anti-poaching vessel in Neptune’s Navy, as the organization’s fleet is known, is former U.S. Coast Guard Buoy Tender White Holly. The organization also operates three former U.S. Coast Guard Island Class Cutters currently engaged in marine conservation and anti-poaching operations.
White Holly was built at Basalt Ship Building in 1944 and served in World War II in Pearl Harbor delivering ammunition to naval vessels. She was acquired by the Coast Guard in 1946 and served until the seventies protecting the Alaskan coastline. The vessel was later transferred to Mississippi as a Buoy Tender to restore aids to navigation damaged by hurricanes until her retirement from the Coast Guard in 1998.
The vessel’s first new mission as part of the Sea Shepherd fleet will be joining Operation Milagro V in Mexico’s Sea of Cortez. The campaign aims to save the critically endangered vaquita porpoise. Vaquitas are endangered because of gillnet poaching, mostly meant to catch the totoaba fish. Like the vaquita, the totoaba is endemic to the Sea of Cortez and critically endangered. The fish are being heavily targeted for their swim bladders, which are illegally sold for exorbitant amounts of money in Asian black markets. It is said that a totoaba bladder can fetch up to $20,000 USD in China.
Sea Shepherd’s M/V White Holly will undertake major refit work in Fernandina Beach, Florida. The crew received a warm visit from Mayor Johnny Miller to welcome the ship to the community, which has been very supportive of Sea Shepherd’s work and mission. The vessel is scheduled to depart in December for Mexico by way of the Panama Canal.