On the 16th of February 2017, the M/V Sam Simon spotted a dead whale on the horizon. The animal, which appeared to be entangled in gillnets, was in waters too shallow for the Sam Simon to approach. PROFEPA, the Mexican environment law enforcement, was notified immediately. It had already identified the animal as a female Bryde’s whale, about 12 m long and 12 tons, under special protection according to the Mexican law NOM-059-SEMARNAT-2010. The Whale was caught in an illegal gill net used to catch the totoaba fish, located in the Reserve of the Upper Gulf of the Colorado, 30 km North of San Felipe.
The pictures, taken by the crew of the M/V Farley Mowat on the 18th of February, show the struggle the animal suffered through its desperate attempts to free itself from the net, as it slowly suffocated to death.
This whale is yet another victim of these indiscriminate fishing devices. It reinforces the importance of having Sea Shepherd’s presence in the Gulf of California, as every net pulled up means a safer environment not only for the Vaquita, but also for the sharks, the whales, the fishes and all other creatures of the sea.