October 22 2018: At approximately 3am while conducting their nightly beach patrol, three volunteer crew members were attacked with a machete and knife by a turtle poacher.
Ben Harris, Luke Paron, and Rebecca McManus sat perched at a vantage point along the beach looking for nesting Olive Ridley turtles, when a man walked towards them shining a bright torch light. The crew originally thought this was a local man named Ramon who helps with nightly patrols. It wasn’t until the man was standing directly above them that the volunteers realized it was one of the turtle poachers.
This man was not alone; a young poacher had followed him and stood idly by. He held in his hand a machete, with a large knife tucked into his front waistband. The poacher immediately became confrontational, screaming in Spanish at the volunteers claiming they knew him and had taken his picture. He demanded that the volunteers return to their own countries as this was his beach and his turtles.
At first, the crew members tried to calmly speak with the man, unsure of the poacher’s true intentions. Then the poacher removed the knife from his waistband and attempted to rob the volunteers, demanding their phones and cameras. When the volunteers refused the poacher attacked, slashing his knife at them.
Ben shined the flashlight directly in the poachers face causing him to slightly pause. This gave the crew an opportunity to defend themselves. Ben safely secured their phones and cameras in the backpack, while Luke hit the man with a stick in the chest and back as self defense. The poacher began to circle the volunteers, swinging his machete wildly at them.
The second poacher who had watched the confrontation grabbed the man by the shirt, attempting to interfere. The crew made a run for it, as the poacher ran after them screaming “I’m going to kill you”. This continued for several minutes as the three volunteers continued running down the beach until they reached safety. Once the entire crew was safely in the house, they contacted headquarters and local authorities.
It is their belief that this man targeted our media team specifically due to the Facebook post from yesterday, showing various poachers our team encounters on our nightly patrols. Sea Shepherd is working with local police enforcement to find the man responsible. We also will be hiring security to protect the crew for the remaining portion of the campaign.