NewsFacing Extinction


Billionaire's boat in fight to save the endangered Vaquita porpoise

The John Paul DeJoria vessel still patrolling after attack by poachers
Posted at 6:28 PM, Aug 10, 2022
and last updated 2022-08-10 21:28:10-04

(KGTV) — A ship with the non-profit Sea Shepherd Conservation Society was violently attacked by poachers just a few hours south of San Diego in the Sea of Cortez, in an area known as the Vaquita Refuge.

The ship is the John Paul DeJoria. Its crew is part of Operation Milagro.

Its mission, in partnership with the Mexican Navy, is to save the critically endangered Vaquita porpoise, snared in the illegal gillnets of poachers here for another fish, the Totoaba, whose sea-bladder brings thousands of dollars per pound on the black market.

The man who funded this Sea Shepherd boat is billionaire environmentalist and entrepreneur John Paul DeJoria, co-founder of John Paul Mitchell Systems and Patron Spirits.

He’s supported Sea Shepherd’s marine conservation and anti-poaching efforts for more than thirty years.

He even joined the crew for a week at sea with his daughter and experienced first-hand what they’re up against in parts of the world.

DeJoria’s boat, which bears his name has spent time patrolling the upper gulf of Mexico in the area designated the zero-tolerance area, or ZTA, as part of the desperate effort to save the vaquita.

Marine scientists estimate only eight to ten adults, and one or two calves remain.

The volunteer crew members are the eyes on the water. When poachers or their deadly gillnets are spotted in the ZTA, the Sea Shepherd summons the Mexican Navy to move the pangas or pull the nets.

This is the only place on earth this shy little porpoise is found.

DeJoria equipped his boat with anti-piracy equipment and on-board security and says they’ll continue their efforts no matter what the fishermen do to chase them away.

This despite the latest move by the Mexican government to end "zero tolerance" against illegal fishing in the Vaquita refuge, replacing it instead with a sliding scale of punishments based on the number of boats in the area. A move marine experts say essentially abandons the Vaquita.

But against all odds, DeJoria will continue to try to give the world’s most endangered marine mammal a fighting chance.

Because this is the end of a species.

When she is gone, there will be no more.

Click here for more information on the effort to save the Vaquita.