In the latest vlog from Sea Shepherd Conservation Society’s ships The M/V Farley Mowat and The RV Martin Sheen, the crew finds and retrieves an illegal totoaba long line from the critically endangered vaquita Marina habitat. By the end of this heart-racing video, crew members are able to rescue four totoabas from the line and release them back into the water.

Totoabas are critically endangered due to their highly-sought after fish bladders that can sell on the Chinese black market for $20,000 each. An article from Yale’s Environment360 described a recent bust that recovered over 200 totoaba swim bladders crossing the border from Mexico into California. This catch was estimated to be worth a shocking $3.6 million, had the shipment reached the Asian market. Unfortunately, this lucrative industry is causing a massive decline in totoaba population levels. In fact, the Mexican government placed a ban on harvesting totoaba in the 1970s after commercial and sport fishing decimated the population. It was placed on the Mexican Endangered Species List in 1975 and in 1976, recognized as endangered by the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species. Though as we can see in this video, this ban hasn’t stopped fishermen from catching these highly-profitable marine animals.

But totoabas aren’t the only marine animals facing the destructive consequences of this illegal fishing business. Vaquitas, the world’s most endangered marine animals, are frequently caught in gillnets operated by illegal totoaba fishermen and left to drown. Since 1997, 80 percent of the world’s vaquitas have fallen victim to bycatch and reports show that the current population has been cut in half in the past three years alone.

If this doesn’t stop soon, these animals might be lost forever. Thankfully, the Sea Shepherd team is doing everything they can to get out there and release these beautiful and rare animals.

Sea Shepherd’s work is absolutely incredible and, unfortunately, very necessary. To learn more about what they’re doing to protect the world’s marine life, check out this post and learn how you can help their efforts. The time to act is now!