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Sea Shepherd to stand fast in the face of poacher violence



Sea Shepherd

Report on the Impending Showdown in the Sea of Cortez 

Today an angry hombre named Sunshine Antonio Rodriguez and his gang of poacher thugs promised to drive Sea Shepherd out of the Sea of Cortez and to end Sea Shepherd efforts to save the endangered Vaquita.

On Monday Rodriguez and his poachers took an old panga, put Sea Shepherd’s name on it and burned it on the street in San Felipe as a warning they would do the same to the SAM SIMON and the FARLEY MOWAT. Rodriguez said that Thursday was the deadline for Sea Shepherd to exit Mexican waters.

Rodriguez said he would attack the Sea Shepherd crew with 200 pangas (small boats).

The poachers are angry that Sea Shepherd is working with the Mexican government to locate and remove illegal nets that are killing endangered Vaquita, endangered Totoaba and large numbers of marine wildlife including sea lions, dolphins, whales, sharks, turtles and numerous species of fish.

Rodriguez described Sea Shepherd as ‘unwanted gringos’ despite the fact that the ships fly the flags of Barbados and the Netherlands and include citizens of numerous nations including Mexico.

Despite false accusations that gringos are responsible, the poachers recently attacked Mexican environmental officials torching numerous government 15 trucks, boats, and ATVs.

Sea Shepherd is in the Sea of Cortez in partnership with the government of Mexico.

Sea Shepherd has responded to the threats by standing fast and continuing net confiscations. Captain Oona Layolle has filed a criminal complaint against Sunshine Antonio Rodriguez. The crew have reported the threats to their embassies in Mexico City.

The Mexican Navy has responded with Naval vessels detailed specifically for security in response to the threats from the poachers. They have brought in two large ships and three small boats (one interceptor and two defenders) plus a helicopter and the army has added more officers on the ground.

Sea Shepherd will deploy the JOHN PAUL DEJORIA presently in Panama north to the Sea of Cortez to back up the SAM SIMON and the FARLEY MOWAT.

Operation Treasured Islands is not cancelled but will be temporarily delayed in light of this threatened violence by the Totoaba poachers.

The JOHN PAUL DEJORIA and the FARLEY MOWAT are both former island class 110’ U.S. Coast Guard patrol vessels. The Sam Simon is a former 52 meter Japanese research vessel.

When threatened we are stronger, more united and more determined. Our ships never retreat in the face of threats of violence. We will respond by reinforcing our efforts with a third ship.

Milagro III campaign leader Captain Oona Layolle reported that, “crew morale is great and everyone is ready for today. We are confident that the Mexican Navy will provide the security we need to continue with our efforts to prevent the extinction of the Vaquita.”

There are less than 30 Vaquita remaining in the world. Sea Shepherd has been informed that now some poachers are deliberately trying to kill the remaining Vaquita, believing this will allow them to escalate their operations to kill endangered Totoaba fish whose bladders sell for as high as $20,000 U.S. A kilo in China.

Sea Shepherd applauds the efforts by the Mexican government to oppose these illegal activities by these poachers and Totoaba bladder smugglers.

I have every confidence in our officers and crew. They are dedicated volunteers, both passionate and courageous. They understand the risks of defending the Vaquita and they also understand the risk to the survival of the Vaquita if they leave. If Sea Shepherd leaves, the Vaquita will go extinct and that is a responsibility that we must defend.

In addition to being one of the co-founders of Greenpeace in 1972 and Greenpeace International in 1979, Paul Watson is the founder of the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society - an organization dedicated to research, investigation and enforcement of laws, treaties, resolutions and regulations established to protect marine wildlife worldwide.


Scubaverse UWP Winners Gallery: Christian Horras



Each month we give the winner of the Scubaverse Underwater Photography competition the opportunity to show off a little more of their work in a gallery. The March winner was Christian Horras and you can see their winning image at the top of this page.

What do you love about diving & underwater photography?

For me it is all about showing the beauty of our world underwater to people that don’t dive and thus can’t see it for themselves. I want to share my own passion for the amazing ecosystem that is so much older than everything we know living on land. As I am from Germany, there are only a few people in my surroundings that have ever seen a coral reef or a shark with their own eyes. It is a big privilege to be able to go diving all over the world and in return it should be our task to arise awareness of this fragile and endangered ecosystem.

What equipment do you use?

I use a Nikon D810 in a Isotta Housing and various lenses, depending on the subject: a Sigma 15mm F2.8 Fisheye, a Nikon 16-35 mm F4 and two Nikon Macro lenses (60mm and 105mm), as well as a WeeFine +13 Diopter. The Fisheye is my main lens, as it allows me to get really close and still cover a big field of view. For lighting I use two Retra Pro Strobes and a Retra Snoot.

Where can our readers see more of your work?


To enter the latest Scubaverse Underwater Photography competition, with a chance to win some great prizes as well as have your own gallery published, head over to the competition page and upload up to 3 images.

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Emperor Divers reaches halfway in Covid Diver Heroes Initiative with fourth award



Emperor Divers have reached the halfway point with their #coviddiverheroes initiative and are still receiving worthy nominations every day! Here, they recognise their 4th winner, another awesome hero from the diving community with an inspirational story of selflessness through the pandemic. Nominated by David White, Phuong Cao wins a free liveaboard trip in the Maldives when she can finally take some time off, and here is her story:

I, David White, would like to nominate Phuong Cao (36) for her tireless efforts fighting this pandemic. Not satisfied with being a frontline hospitalist in New York she took a second job on the COVID team in Guam to treat patients under even tougher conditions on her weeks off! She continues to commute 7750 miles each way and apply herself to both jobs for three months already and counting. Her energy level has no limits and she’s only happy when those in her care are on the mend. I think she definitely deserves a break! I guess the Maldives would be the best choice for her as I know she has dived with you in the Red Sea already.

Phuong Cao

We have been in touch with Phuong who had this to say: “Wow what a surprise! Thank you for the recognition. Holding my breath until I get back underwater!”

The halfway point is a good chance to remind people that the initiative is still running and the Emperor Divers team would love to hear about more heroes, as there are four more to award in the next 2 months!

Do you know a diver who has been heroic this past year? Emperor know that, worldwide, people have had to step up during this pandemic which has affected so many lives. They want to reward some real heroes with free liveaboard trips in the Red Sea or Maldives.

Luke Atkinson, Emperor’s Red Sea Manager, said: “This initiative is our way of saying ‘thank you’ to all those hundreds of people who have taken a selfless interest in looking after the vulnerable in their community. Examples could include healthworkers, carers or those who have come out of retirement to volunteer locally, but really we know there are many other ways people have been heroic.“

Emperor want to hear from people who know a heroic diver who would love to have a free liveaboard trip to look forward to in the future. People need to nominate a Covid Hero Diver and tell Emperor (in 100 – 200 words) why they deserve a free trip, and whether they would prefer the Red Sea or the Maldives. A multinational panel of Emperor’s most loyal and compassionate staff will judge the entries and pick a winner every 2 weeks for the next 2 months. There are two remaining Red Sea and two more Maldives liveaboards to be earned, so get nominating and give that hero a reward for their amazing work!

Winners will be announced by 14th (Maldives) and 28th (Red Sea) of each month. Final entries for Red Sea by 20th May ‘21 and Maldives 5th June ’21.

Entries, comments and questions should be sent to

Terms & Conditions apply: Please contact for details.

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Explore the amazing triangle of Red Sea Reefs - The Brothers, Daedalus and Elphinstone on board the brand new liveaboard Big Blue.  With an option to add on a week at Roots Red Sea before or after. 

Strong currents and deep blue water are the catalysts that bring the pelagic species flocking to these reefs. The reefs themselves provide exquisite homes for a multitude of marine life.  The wafting soft corals are adorned with thousands of colourful fish. The gorgonian fans and hard corals provide magnificent back drops, all being patrolled by the reef’s predatory species.

£1475 per person based on double occupancy.  Soft all inclusive board basis, buffet meals with snacks, tea and coffee always available.  Add a week on at Roots Red Sea Resort before or after the liveaboard for just £725pp.  Flights and transfers are included.  See our brochure linked above for the full itinerary.

This trip will be hosted by The Scuba Place.  Come Dive with Us!

Call 020 3515 9955 or email

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