Sea Shepherd Crew Attacked by Turtle Poacher

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.

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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.

Sea Shepherd Fleet Receives Marine Conservation Ship Designation by Dominica Registry – A World First

ROSEAU AUGUST 9TH, 2018 – Sea Shepherd Conservation Society’s vessel M/V BRIGITTE BARDOT has become the third ship in history to obtain registry as a Private Marine Conservation Yacht by the Dominica Maritime Registry (the other two being the group’s ships M/V John Paul DeJoria and M/V Sharpie.)

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Today, while anchored in the roadstead anchorage in front of Roseau, Dominica, the vessel’s new home port, Dominica MP Denise Charles officially raised the Brigitte Bardot’s flag, which bears the image of the island’s national bird, the Imperial Amazon Parrot.  Found only on the island of Dominica, the parrot, also known as the Sisserou, symbolizes biodiversity, resilience and environmental awareness.

While ships are routinely designated as private yachts, commercial yachts and other similar titles, Dominica’s certificate of registry lists the M/V Brigitte Bardot as a private marine conservation yacht, reflecting the anti-poaching organization’s unique work in defending, conserving and protecting the world’s oceans.

“It was a great honour indeed to have Dominica MP Denise Charles on board to raise the Dominica flag on the Brigitte Bardot,” said Locky Maclean, the group’s Ship Operations Director.

The dedication ceremony comes on the heels of Sea Shepherd’s successful Operation Jairo Caribbean, protecting nesting sea turtles in Antigua and Barbuda.

“Registering the vessel to Dominica was a natural decision for Sea Shepherd as we formed a close relationship with the island a year ago during our Hurricane Irma and Maria relief effort, Operation Good Pirates of the Caribbean”.  Added Maclean, “Sea Shepherd would like to thank Minister for Tourism Robert Tonge, MP Denise Charles, Gilda and Arthlyn Nesty, Prime Minister Roosevelt Skerritt, and all our friends in Dominica as well as the Dominica registry for supporting our marine conservation efforts and granting us the privilege to fly her national flag.”

Sea Shepherd Fleet Receives Marine Conservation Ship Designation by Dominica Registry – A World First

ROSEAU AUGUST 9TH, 2018 – Sea Shepherd Conservation Society’s vessel M/V BRIGITTE BARDOT has become the third ship in history to obtain registry as a Private Marine Conservation Yacht by the Dominica Maritime Registry (the other two being the group’s ships M/V John Paul DeJoria and M/V Sharpie.)

180809-OJC-SA-Dominica-Minister-for-Publlic-Works-Denise-Charles-visits-the-Brigitte-Bardot-on-her-transit-South-_66A8440

Today, while anchored in the roadstead anchorage in front of Roseau, Dominica, the vessel’s new home port, Dominica MP Denise Charles officially raised the Brigitte Bardot’s flag, which bears the image of the island’s national bird, the Imperial Amazon Parrot.  Found only on the island of Dominica, the parrot, also known as the Sisserou, symbolizes biodiversity, resilience and environmental awareness.

While ships are routinely designated as private yachts, commercial yachts and other similar titles, Dominica’s certificate of registry lists the M/V Brigitte Bardot as a private marine conservation yacht, reflecting the anti-poaching organization’s unique work in defending, conserving and protecting the world’s oceans.

“It was a great honour indeed to have Dominica MP Denise Charles on board to raise the Dominica flag on the Brigitte Bardot,” said Locky Maclean, the group’s Ship Operations Director.

The dedication ceremony comes on the heels of Sea Shepherd’s successful Operation Jairo Caribbean, protecting nesting sea turtles in Antigua and Barbuda.

“Registering the vessel to Dominica was a natural decision for Sea Shepherd as we formed a close relationship with the island a year ago during our Hurricane Irma and Maria relief effort, Operation Good Pirates of the Caribbean”.  Added Maclean, “Sea Shepherd would like to thank Minister for Tourism Robert Tonge, MP Denise Charles, Gilda and Arthlyn Nesty, Prime Minister Roosevelt Skerritt, and all our friends in Dominica as well as the Dominica registry for supporting our marine conservation efforts and granting us the privilege to fly her national flag.”

Sea Shepherd Saves Endangered Turtle on Final Jairo Patrol

Sea Shepherd and Antigua Sea Turtle Project (ASTP)rescued a critically endangered hawksbill turtle while conducting surveys and conservation patrols of key sea turtle nesting sites on Antigua and Barbuda.

August 2nd, 2018 Antigua and Barbuda –  On July 31st, the crew of Sea Shepherd’s The MV Brigitte Bardot, together with researchers from the Antigua Sea Turtle Project (ASTP), rescued an endangered sea turtle on the beaches of Barbuda during Operation Jairo Caribbean.

The turtle, a critically endangered hawksbill, had come ashore to nest and became trapped under a rocky ledge. Unable to free herself, she could not return to the ocean.

“She wedged herself into a position where she couldn’t back up and she couldn’t turn around.” says Dr. Kate Levasseur, a conservation researcher with ASTP who has been collecting data on the turtles of Antigua and Barbuda since 2009.

Working quickly and carefully, the conservationists managed to free the turtle, allowing her safe passage back into the ocean. Researchers believe that she had been trapped in the heat of the mid-day sun for up to six hours but upon rescue, the turtle appeared to be in good health and successfully managed to return to the ocean.

“She was slow to go back to the water, but she was ok.” says Dr. Levasseur.

The rescue of this turtle marks the end of a successful one-month campaign in which over 60 nests were documented, and 12 turtles were tagged to be continually monitored by scientists. The rescue, which happened on the last day of the campaign, came with one additional surprise:

The turtle that was saved was the same turtle first encountered by the crew when the campaign began several weeks ago. She was the very first turtle to be monitored and tagged by researchers this season.

Sea Shepherd has been in Barbuda since July 7th, patrolling and protecting the nesting beaches of endangered hawksbill, green, and leatherback sea turtles. The campaign, Operation Jairo Caribbean, is named after Jairo Mora Sandoval, a Costa Rican conservationist murdered while protecting nesting leatherback turtles in 2013. In Barbuda, Sea Shepherd is working in collaboration with the Antigua Sea Turtle Project, an environmental awareness group working to protect Antigua and Barbuda’s endangered sea turtle populations through nesting surveys, education, and advocacy for turtle-friendly practices.

Hawksbill turtles are a critically endangered species and are at risk of extinction. They are slow to mature and their numbers have declined by over 80% within the past three generations. Loss of nesting habitat is one of the major threats to the survival of the species.

Operation Jairo Concludes Extensive Study of Threatened Sea Turtle Nesting Sites on Barbuda

Sea Shepherd is partnering with researchers from the Antigua Sea Turtle Project (ASTP) to conduct surveys and conservation patrols of key sea turtle nesting sites on Antigua and Barbuda.

Antigua July 27th, 2018 – Sea Shepherd Conservation Society and Antigua Sea Turtle Project (ASTP) are now in the final week of Operation Jairo Caribbean, a three-week effort to protect and monitor endangered sea turtles nesting on the shores of Barbuda, from on board Sea Shepherd’s interceptor vessel the M/V Brigitte Bardot. The team of researchers and Sea Shepherd crew have been conducting night and day patrols along 11miles of beach, collecting critical baseline data on numbers of nesting Hawksbill, Green, and Leatherback sea turtles that use the coast.

Over sixty nests have been documented so far, 12 of those turtles were encountered and tagged by patrols, and three return nesters have been identified that were previously tagged in 2014 / 2015 surveys. The group has also observed hatching leatherback and hawksbill nests, recording hatchling success rates and standing by to ensure the newborn turtles make it safely into the ocean. The campaign also incorporated the use of a night vision drone to spot turtle tracks and nesting females, enabling wider coverage and helping to ensure that researchers identify every turtle in the patrol area.

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Operation Jairo is working closely with the Barbuda community in this effort. Members of the Barbuda Council visited the team on board the Brigitte Bardot and joined in night patrols on Low Bay. Council members were lucky to witness a critically endangered hawksbill turtle laying her eggs in the sand. Chairman of Agriculture, Lands, Fisheries and Coastal Protection shared that it was an “experience of a lifetime” and emphasized the Barbuda Council’s support for conservation measures. The team have also been reaching out to youth in the community, hosting three local interns on board and interactive turtle talks with local children in the main town of Codrington.

Kate Levasseur, PhD researcher with the ASTP who has been collecting data on Barbuda since 2009 said it was “fantastic to watch to the nesting process with the Barbudan kids. Some had never seen a turtle laying eggs before, they had lots of great questions and were excited to see how we tag and collect data”.

In the final week, the campaign will be completing survey efforts and compiling data which will be shared with local management agencies and regional bodies to strengthen sea turtle protection measures and conservation of the important coastal areas upon which these endangered species depend.

The Antigua Sea Turtle Project (ASTP) of the Environmental Awareness Group has been working since 2007 to protect Antigua and Barbuda’s endangered sea turtle populations through nesting surveys, education, and advocacy for turtle friendly practices.

Operation Jairo Concludes Extensive Study of Threatened Sea Turtle Nesting Sites on Barbuda

Sea Shepherd is partnering with researchers from the Antigua Sea Turtle Project (ASTP) to conduct surveys and conservation patrols of key sea turtle nesting sites on Antigua and Barbuda.

Antigua July 27th, 2018 – Sea Shepherd Conservation Society and Antigua Sea Turtle Project (ASTP) are now in the final week of Operation Jairo Caribbean, a three-week effort to protect and monitor endangered sea turtles nesting on the shores of Barbuda, from on board Sea Shepherd’s interceptor vessel the M/V Brigitte Bardot. The team of researchers and Sea Shepherd crew have been conducting night and day patrols along 11miles of beach, collecting critical baseline data on numbers of nesting Hawksbill, Green, and Leatherback sea turtles that use the coast.

Brigitte Bardot Crew in Codrington Educating the Youth About Turtles

While field teams in Barbuda have continued to keep up night and day patrols on the 11-mile survey site, the involvement of local youth and communities is also an important priority for Operation Jairo campaign. Three local college students were invited to join the expert team of turtle researchers as interns, learning hands on conservation research methods and experiencing ship life aboard the Brigitte Bardot. The team have also been reaching out to youth in the Barbuda community, providing interactive turtle talks to children in the main town of Codrington. Chris Holt, Captain of the Brigitte Bardot said that “It is a privilege to provide a vessel and home base for this research. I really support the idea of getting the youth involved, they are the future of ecological protection”.  The Barbuda Council has welcomed the campaign’s efforts, recognizing the importance of marine conservation in rebuilding a resilient community. With the commitment of the local community, we are hoping that the future of marine conservation in Barbuda will be bright!

Brigitte Bardot Crew in Codrington Educating the Youth About Turtles

While field teams in Barbuda have continued to keep up night and day patrols on the 11-mile survey site, the involvement of local youth and communities is also an important priority for Operation Jairo campaign. Three local college students were invited to join the expert team of turtle researchers as interns, learning hands on conservation research methods and experiencing ship life aboard the Brigitte Bardot. The team have also been reaching out to youth in the Barbuda community, providing interactive turtle talks to children in the main town of Codrington. Chris Holt, Captain of the Brigitte Bardot said that “It is a privilege to provide a vessel and home base for this research. I really support the idea of getting the youth involved, they are the future of ecological protection”.  The Barbuda Council has welcomed the campaign’s efforts, recognizing the importance of marine conservation in rebuilding a resilient community. With the commitment of the local community, we are hoping that the future of marine conservation in Barbuda will be bright!