Fresh off the successful first leg of its vaquita porpoise defense campaign Operation Milagro in the Sea of Cortez, Sea Shepherd USA’s sailing research vessel the R/V Martin Sheen has arrived in Costa Rica, where Sea Shepherd has begun an ocean research and public awareness campaign.
Now sailing under the command of Captain Francois Martin, as Captain Oona Layolle has handed over the wheel after months at sea, the crew of the R/V Martin Sheen will study and document issues facing wildlife and eco-systems of the Pacific Ocean in Costa Rica and throughout Central America during the campaign. Sea Shepherd will gather data on micro-plastics and other marine debris, ocean pollution and other critical problems facing marine wildlife and their imperiled eco-systems.
Sea Shepherd has also offered to assist rangers in Cocos Island, off the coast of Costa Rica, in their efforts to stop illegal activities in the waters of this UNESCO World Heritage Site, and has voiced support for the “All Aboard” campaign to raise funds for a speedboat that the rangers will use for patrols.
Along with research at sea, a key aspect of the campaign will be engaging in education and outreach in local communities to raise awareness of the importance of marine conservation, and continuing to build a positive Sea Shepherd presence in Central America to inspire the public to get involved in the protection of their ocean eco-systems.
One way in which Sea Shepherd will accomplish this goal will be to educate Costa Rican schoolchildren and take them on field trips by boat to teach them how to snorkel and explore the magnificent animals that reside in their waters. Sea Shepherd will also encourage eco-friendly tourism in the region. As Captain Layolle recently told Channel 7 of Costa Rica, Sea Shepherd wishes to bring a message of goodwill to the people of Costa Rica to take care of their seas because 7% of the biodiversity of all the world’s oceans lies in Costa Rica. So we want to support Costa Rica in this vital mission of stewardship of this unique region.
Sea Shepherd is known for its direct-action campaigns to defend marine wildlife on the high seas, but efforts like this, to document and increase awareness of the plight of the oceans and the bio-diversity within, are indeed a crucial form of direct action too! The more public concern and awareness that exists of the urgent need to protect our oceans, the more people there will be actively making a difference for ocean wildlife and habitats worldwide.