The following is an email sent to Dr. Barbara Taylor of NOAA by Grupo Cleofas Director Greg Alker the morning of November 11, 2017 regarding vaquita rescue efforts.
Last night Jonas called me to tell me the good news and I was on the moon…as he imparted the details of the capture and that the animal was being transported to shore I was reminiscing about all the preparation, planning, meetings, discussions, logistics, but most of all the hearts of the people involved in this project. I transported myself back to last October when I received the call from you saying that there may be a rescue attempt and that you were considering using the Maria Cleofas. I remembered how honored I was having been considered as a support vessel and purposed myself from that moment to give my best effort towards preparations. As the time finally approached to leave Vallarta (September 29) and we made our final preparations to depart I prayed with the crew for a safe crossing to San Felipe, protection for all aboard the Maria Cleofas, and success for our efforts.
When we arrived and your team came aboard I was amazed at the camaraderie and unity of purpose amongst your team. Then on October 11th at the meeting in San Felipe, to see that multi-national group assembled in that room all for the same purpose was truly awe inspiring…each person standing up giving name and role they played reminded me of a very complex machine whose gears were the people…each having his or her intricate role in the project. At that time I forgot about everything else, world events, political preference, even my own personal issues evaporated in the mist of the task at hand. The Governor and Secretary both stated that history would be made here…and I believe it truly will be!!
Early this morning I received a call from Jonas, as I do every morning, but I could tell in his voice that there was a problem and he went on to tell me that the animal had died during the night. As I stood in the pre dawn darkness I was unable to process for a couple of seconds and immediately started thinking of you and your team your feelings and this is what I will take away from this experience:
That when a group of individuals get together, united in purpose, notwithstanding race, nationality, or political preference, they can achieve success, because I believe success manifests itself in the the simple fact that they have united in spirit and executed a plan to the best of their abilities. The outcome of our efforts, which obviously is the desired result as per plan, is not entirely in our hands and our our pride needs be tempered with the knowledge of that fact. This may seem lofty, but the fact remains that you did everything possible and I believe that the worldwide recognition of this group united to save a species can and will send waves of motivation to whom it may concern… Maybe the Mexican Government will fortify the Vaquita Refuge navigation zone, maybe the US Government will crackdown on illegal transport of totoaba bladders, maybe philanthropists on both sides of the border will finance alternative economic sources in the form of fish farms and other types of employment…and maybe the world will realize that this could have been an exercise to see how a group of multi national individuals could save a species…that someday may be our own human race.
Call me an optimistic fool, but I believe Vaquita has a chance to recover on its own in the wild IF proper measures are taken….let’s hope that happens!!
Saludos to everyone aboard…..you are all heroes in my book!
un abrazo fuerte!