The vaquita, the world’s smallest whale, is near extinction as its habitat is destroyed by Mexican cartels and Chinese mafia, who harvest the swim bladder of the totoaba fish, the “cocaine of the sea.” Environmental activists, Mexican navy and undercover investigators are fighting back against this illegal multi-million-dollar business.


“Urgent and suspenseful” - The Hollywood Reporter

“A heart-grabbing exposé” - Variety


A looming disaster in one of the most spectacular environments on Earth sparks a rescue mission unlike any other in Sea of Shadows, a riveting new documentary with the intensity of a Hollywood thriller from National Geographic Documentary Films and winner of the Sundance audience award. When Mexican drug cartels and Chinese traffickers join forces to poach the rare totoaba fish in the Sea of Cortez, their deadly methods threaten virtually all marine life in the region, including the most elusive and endangered whale species on Earth,the vaquita porpoise. Sea of Shadow follows a team of dedicated scientists, high-tech conservationists, investigative journalists and courageous undercover agents as well as the Mexican Navyas they put their lives on the line to save the last remaining vaquitas and bring the vicious international crime syndicate to justice.


Filmmaker: Richard Ladkani
Country: Austria
Year: 2019
Runtime: 105'
Format: HD


festival highlights

Sundance Film Festival 2019

CPH:DOX 2019

Hong Kong International Film Festival 2019



World Cinema Documentary Audience Award - Sundance Film Festival 2019

Minnesota Cinematic Arts Award - Minneapolis St. Paul International Film Festival 2019