Seriously, Green Monsters – could Sea Shepherd be any more amazing? This year alone, the marine nonprofit has helped shut down Japan’s illegal whale hunt in the Southern Ocean Whale Sanctuary, worked hard to expose the horrors of the Taiji dolphin hunt, teamed up with Bionic Yarn and G-Star Raw to turn unwanted plastic debris into fabrics, and launched a pretty cool vegan cookbook, in addition to a whole lot of other initiatives. Where do they find time for it all?
The organization can now lay claim to yet another conservation victory, with the news that their Italian anti-poaching campaign, “Operation Siracusa,” has succeeded in preventing FIVE large-scale poaching operations – in the space of just nine days!
The aim of Operation Siracusa is to protect the delicate ecosystem of the Plemmirio Marine Reserve – particularly species such as the sea urchin and the Dusky Grouper, who are categorised as “threatened” and “endangered” on the IUCN Red List.
Sea Shepherd reports that on the morning of May 27, the eighth day of Operation Siracusa, a poaching operation was halted in the B-Zone of the Reserve. The Polizia Ambientale (Italy’s Environmental Police), with the assistance of the Sea Shepherd team, managed to catch two divers red-handed, who had been carrying spearguns and planning to kill up to 500 sea urchins in the area.
The fact that these urchins were saved, along with 500 further live urchins who were confiscated from the poachers and later released, means that Operation Siracusa has saved the lives of over 1,000 animals to date!
The poaching of sea urchins is forbidden year-round throughout the entire area of the Plemmirio Marine Reserve. Sea Shepherd Captain, Peter Hammarstedt, said, “The sea deserves the same level of protection that cathedrals are granted, and this is even more relevant in a seaside town such as Siracusa, a town which is also a UNESCO World Heritage Site.”
Andrea Morello, campaign leader and national coordinator for Sea Shepherd Italia, added, “Just as the Sea Shepherd Australia crew who took part in Operation Relentless were indeed relentless in saving seven whales from poachers in the Southern Ocean Whale Sanctuary, the crew of Operation Siracusa is relentless in enforcing the law to preserve life in the Plemmirio Marine Reserve.”
One thing should be abundantly clear to all wannabe poachers, cetacean hunters, and ocean polluters by now: don’t get on Sea Shepherd’s bad side, unless you want your butts to be kicked into the middle of next week!
Image source: Kate Ausburn/Flickr