Sea of Shadows” is a new film documentary that tells the story of an illegal fish trade between the Mexican cartels and Chinese mafia.

Sea of Shadows follows a team of dedicated scientists, high-tech conservationists, investigative journalists and undercover agents as well as the Mexican Navy as they put their lives on the line to save the last remaining Vaquitas and bring the vicious international crime syndicate to justice.

illegal totoaba bladders for sale at a Chinese street market

In traditional Chinese medicine, the totoaba bladder is believed to cure arthritis. As with much of TCM, the claim is unproven and inevitably creates more harm than good. An entire ecosystem is on the verge of collapse thanks to the illegal bladder trade between the Mexican cartel and Chinese businessmen.

While the totoaba are rapidly declining in numbers—their only home is in the Sea of Cortez, the body of water that separates Baja California with mainland Mexico—the illegal fishing nets local fishermen use are killing everything else: turtles, sharks, and the focus of “Sea of Shadows,” the vaquita. There are only believed to be 15 or so of these small porpoises left in existence.

The fish bladders, bought for $5,000 from local fisherman, are sold in China for over $100,000 to make an unproven medicine.

Sea of Shadows National Geographic

Sea of Shadows

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