“You have to understand that it can happen and you’ll never know when. I’ve understand this when my brother never came back and I made peace with fear” says Reyes Cosio Rosas a shark hunter from El Sargento, a small fishing village in Baja California.
Every night for living he faces the dark waters of the sea of Cortez. Jacques Cousteau has defined this place “The world’s aquarium”: its waters host more than 900 species of fish and over 30 cetacean’s types but years of overfishing have deeply affected its delicate ecosystem. From more than a decade the community of shark fishermen or “Tiburoneros” from El Sargento is forced to migrate to the Pacific side of the Baja peninsula, due to the state of sea of Cortez. They pass most of their life away from their families in abandoned islands which seem outposts at the edge of the world. Everyday they navigate up to 40 miles from the coast for catching bigger sharks into an infinite routine.
The project follows an emotional journey through the relationship between these men and the nature which surrounds them, where they are unexpected guests and where the ones who keep you alive can also kill you.
Sea of Cortez, Baja California, Mexico. Tiny organisms, known as sea fireflies Lit up the sea at night.
Pacific Ocean, Off Magdalena Bay, Mexico. A Silky Shark (Carcharhinus falciformis) swims freely in the open water. Scientists are still studying the migration patterns of the Pelagic sharks, the main factors that cause shark migration are water temperature, reproduction and food sources.The Silky sharks are cold blooded so they will migrate to stay within their preferred temperature ranges.
Sea of Cortez, Baja California, Mexico. Two shark hunters swim after a night out in the sea.
Sea of Cortez, Baja California, Mexico. A crew of shark hunters as they heard the sound of a whale next to the boat.
Sea of Cortez, Baja California, Mexico. The last light of the day in the Sea of Cortez. Jacques Cousteau called it “The world’s aquarium” for its biodiversity, but decades of overfishing mainly from large fishing boats have caused a total collapse of fish stocks and have destroyed its ecosystem.
Punta arena, Baja California, Mexico. A shark fisherman wash himself into a ruined house on the Island. The isolation that these people live lead them to be very wary of outsiders, moreover the international pressure for banning shark fishing increases their distrust.
Punta Arena, Baja California, Mexico. An abandoned building used as a shelter by fishermen.
Pacific Ocean, Off Magdalena Bay, Mexico A blue shark (Prionace glauca) hooked while trying to resist just before being caught. It is estimated that 10 to 20 million of these sharks are killed each year as a result of fishing. the fish is now classified as “near-threatened” on the IUCN Red List.
Punta Arena, Baja California, Mexico. A fisherman rests at night.
Punta Arena, Baja California, Mexico. Ivan Lucero, 26, is a shark fishemen from El sargento. Ivan Studied food science at the university of La Paz, but he didn’t find a work in that field and now he is a “tiburonero”.
Punta Arena, Baja California, Mexico. fishermen burn trash and carcasses at night.
Pacific Ocean, Off Magadalena Bay, Mexico. A Silky Shark as it died. Sharks are targeted for their meat, whichis sold all over mexico and fins for their fins for use in shark fin soup, a delicacy in Asia, but as they are slow-growing and slow to reproduce, they are vulnerable to overfishing. Recently the price for shark fins has fallen by 70% according to Wild Aid, a U.S. based NGO, because of several government bans and campaigns by conservationists.This fact has affected shark fishermen in Mexico, now they earn more from shark meat.
Sea of Cortez, Baja California, Mexico. The sky at night in the middle of the sea.
Punta Arena, Baja California, Mexico. A shark fisherman or “Tiburonero” Comes back to his shack. Shark fishermen usually work 14 hours a day,They stay for long period of time away from their family, their camp are located in remote areas, difficult to reach. These fishermen in the last years have been hit hard by regulations by the Mexican government due to the increase in international policies for shark’s protection.
Punta Arena, Baja California, Mexico. The stomach of an hammerhead shark stabbed to death.
Punta Arena, Baja California, Mexico. Shark fishermen talk at night.
Punta Arena, Baja California, Mexico.
El Sargento, Baja California, Mexico. The grave of Larry Cosio Rosas, brother of Rey Cosio Rosas, a shark fisherman who died in 2013 during a shipwreck.
Sea of Cortez, Baja California, Mexico. a fishermen sets up the net for the night.
Born in Venice in 1988, Federico Vespignani after the graduation in photography at IED in Rome started working as freelance photographer. His recent works include reportage photography on PTSD in Bosnia and Herzegovina, Homophobia in Italy,fishermen on the Galician coast, the LGBT community in Jamaica and shark fishing in Mexico. Federico has been published in national and international titles including The New York Times, Neue Zürcher Zeitung, Manner, Il Reportage and Private Magazine among the others. He is contributor photographer for ParalleloZero photo agency.
He currently lives and works in Milan.