Life, Death and the vaquita

Baja California Sunset. Copyright: Greg Joder.

Since my last blog I have come to Mexico to join Sea Shepherd’s Operation Milagr0, the on-going campaign to remove illegal gill nets set to capture the endangered totoaba. The swim bladders of the totoaba are said to be medicinal and sold in China for many thousands of dollars per kilogram.  These same nets catch and drown the vaquita, a critically endangered harbor porpoise endemic to the northern Gulf of California with an estimated population of less than 20.  Sea Shepherd is working in cooperation with the Mexican government to stop the poachers and give the vaquita and totoaba a fighting chance.

Update, catching up, wildlife etc. …

It’s been too long since my last post.  So much has happened and also life has been pretty quiet too.

Following up with the beaked whale project with Sea Shepherd, I flew over 50 drone flights in order to assist the biologists in identifying and documenting Cuvier’s Beaked Whales at Isla Guadalupe.  Here is the project video:

Here is a video of some of the wildlife and a shark diving boat at Isla Guadalupe:

Here is a video of flying through fog at Isla Guadalupe:

Next week I’ll be leaving to fly drones for Sea Shepherd on Operation Milagro, in our continuing efforts to save the endangered Vaquita from extinction.

Beaked Whales?

Last week I joined the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society’s reseach ship, the Martin Sheen. We will be supporting scientists studying beaked whales off the Pacific coast of Baja California. My role will be drone operator, tasked with documenting the marine mammals from the air when they surface. The scientists, who are all from Mexico, will be taking tissue samples for heavy metal and DNA testing as well as recording the whales songs.

Lots of Mountain Lions

The camera traps I’ve set up have captured some very nice mountain lion activity.  The following two videos show two different mountain lion families some 20 miles apart.

The first video is from Cat Canyon:

The second video is from Lion Wash, which I have had camera stationed on and off for over two years:

Caterpillar to Chrysalis

Queen Butterfly caterpillars are eating their way through the leaves on the milkweed plants in my yard.  This is just fine by me.  While I’ve been hoping for some Monarch Butterfly caterpillars to do the same, I have yet to see any.  As far as the Queen caterpillars go, several have already morphed into butterflies as, evidenced by the chrysalis skeletons left behind, while others have only just started.  Here’s a short video I made of the metamorphosis process at normal speed, from caterpillar to chrysalis:

Queen Butterfly chrysalis. Copyright: Greg Joder.

In this video I speed up the 45 minute process to two minutes:

Mountain Lion Family

Yesterday I made the hike out to check on two camera traps I have set up in a wash in the Sonoran Desert.  This is the same wash where my cameras captured three mountain lions when the cubs were nearing a year old (Second video below).

The following video was captured just last week.  I’m so happy to see they are alive and well!