As I walk into the bridge I see a big man resting tall on the captain’s chair of The Ocean Warrior. His hair is grey and his gaze
is rather intense. I introduce myself and he doesn’t seem too impressed; he is wearing a Hawaiian shirt and jeans-shorts. Somehow it isn’t exactly what I expected, we exchange a few words and I go back to whatever I was doing before. It was definitely a strong first impression, after 13 years I can still remember it as if it were yesterday.
I also remember him telling the crew that he was going to Antarctica at the end of the year to stop the illegal whaling Japan was conducting down there. The whole thing was new to me. I was young and inexperienced. I knew for as long as I could remember that I wanted to do something for the environment. When I was about 14 I hung up a picture I found in a magazine of Julia Butterfly Hill, a young woman who climbed an old-growth sequoia tree and said she was going to stay up there to defend the forest. I thought that was amazing.
The year was 2001 and Paul Watson did not manage to make it to the Southern Ocean Whale Sanctuary. As a matter of fact not many people had even heard of Sea Shepherd back then. He did manage to gather the resources the next year and take that same ship, now renamed after the author Farley Mowat, down to the cold seas.
To think of that now does seem fantastic to me. Everyone I speak to nowadays knows what Sea Shepherd is and what we do. It is a big difference. But at the same time it is the same, really. We are just a bunch of people who got tired of waiting for the government or “someone” to do what is right. We are just tired of the indifference and of seeing our planet get robbed of its biodiversity at an ever-increasing rate.
Ten years after that first encounter I sat down again to speak to Paul. He spoke about the dedication and amount of time it takes to tackle an issue. When I asked him about the whaling in the North Pacific and other places, he took a deep breath and told me that these things take time, you can’t give up on an issue until it is actually resolved, and we only have enough resources to deal with something so big at one time.
Now, this is the tenth year Sea Shepherd is traveling to the Southern Ocean to stop commercial whaling in a internationally recognized whale sanctuary, mind you that commercial whaling has been banned since 1986. The Japanese whalers hide under the pretense of conducting science. The only problem with this is that everyone knows they are commercially whaling. We are the only group down here, the ONLY people here protecting the whales. There is no other governmental or non-governmental organization in Antarctica right now to do this. I stress this, because it sounds bizarre, but it is the truth.
Ten years and we are still going strong, stronger than ever, and there is no doubt in the minds of the 101 people down here that we will stop whaling in the Southern Ocean.
Are we worried that Paul Watson is not here? To the dismay of the illegal whalers, Paul Watson is here. His vision stands strong within every single crewmember aboard these three vessels that we now call our fleet. Relentless, we stand our ground until the whales of Antarctica’s Southern Ocean Whale Sanctuary swim free and are protected in their waters. We are Paul Watson, and we are here to stay.
To read this article on the Sea Shepherd Australia’s page you can click here.
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