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Format: 104min., 4K

A National Geographic Film

Exec. Prod.: Leonardo DiCaprio, Laura Nix, Rebecca Cammisa...

Producers: Walter Köhler, Wolfgang Knöpfler

Director: Richard Ladkani

Editor: Georg Fischer, Verena Schönauer

Cinematography: Richard Ladkani

Second Camera: Tobias Corts

Sound: Roland Winkler

Music: H. Scott Salinas

Sales Agent: Submarine / Josh Braun

Locations: Mexico

Production Co.: Terra Mater in associ with Malaika Pictures, Appian Way, Wild Lens Collective

Sea Of Shadows

The Mexican Sea of Cortez is facing total collapse because of a war. A war of fishermen, the government, and conservationists against drug cartels and the Chinese mafia. The cause of conflict: the swim bladder of the Totoaba fish, nicknamed the “Cocaine of the Sea”. 

The Chinese believe it to have miraculous healing powers, and over the past few years, a multimillion-dollar black market has emerged. The promise of making ridiculous amounts of easy money is driving local fishermen into the arms of ruthless Mexican drug lords. The “El Chapo” of Totoaberos, a heavily armed and dangerous cartel boss, is running a tight network of fishermen, but also controls corrupt officials in the police and the army. Stopping him is almost impossible. 
Jacques Cousteau called the Sea of Cortez “The Aquarium of the World”, but now it is being attacked by thousands of illegal gillnets which traffickers use to find the Totoaba, killing everything in their wake. Caught in the eye of the storm is the world’s smallest porpoise, the Vaquita; a subspecies of whales found only here in the Sea of Cortez. So far, all efforts to protect it from the evil forces of money and greed have failed. Without a massive intervention, the Vaquita will very likely go extinct within the next twelve months as less than fifteen remain.
An ambitious plan to catch the last surviving Vaquita and resettle them into a protected sanctuary for rebreeding appears to be their last hope. Nothing like this has ever been attempted before, and there is no telling whether the Vaquita can even survive captivity. 

Meanwhile, to alleviate imminent danger, activists from the organization Sea Shepherd are scrambling to pull mile after mile of illegal gillnets from the waters, freeing any surviving entangled animals and destroying the nets. Prone to attacks from angry fishermen, they collaborate with the Mexican navy that is struggling to keep the peace.

As conservationists fight to save this immensely beautiful ecosystem, investigative journalists and undercover intelligence agents are targeting the dealers and traffickers who are the main enablers fueling this trade. Gathering the necessary evidence that will hold up in court to take down the criminal network is a highly dangerous endeavor, involving the infiltration of drug cartels and the Chinese mafia. They are willing to risk their own lives, since this battle is about more than the survival of one species. It is a fight for the value of life, both human and animal, that we need to protect in the 21stcentury.

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