Captains' Blogs

Read blogs written by the captains of the Sea Shepherd ships while on campaign.

 

Going Home

by Captain Adam Meyerson
Captain of The Sam Simon

Captain Meyerson enjoying a sunset on The Sam Simon Photo: Iraultza Izquierdo DariasCaptain Meyerson enjoying a sunset on The Sam Simon 
Photo: Iraultza Izquierdo Darias
I was relieved today to hear that the criminal whale poaching fleet was being escorted out of the Southern Ocean Whale Sanctuary by my fellow Captains, Siddharth Chakravarty and Peter Hammarstedt, and their hardworking and dedicated crews. The crew of The Sam Simon and I are proud to have played a part in this year’s Antarctic Whale Defense Campaign, Operation Relentless, and are happy to see that our mates are headed back to port.

It was difficult to be the first ship back to port, leaving our fellow warriors behind. It would be great if we had the same resources that the whale butchers have access to, but we are not handed millions of dollars by the government to accomplish our mission. Instead we rely entirely on individuals supporting us, and so we must use our limited resources carefully.

Read more: Going Home

Asininity to the power of Infinity!

by Captain Siddharth Chakravarty
Captain of The Steve Irwin

Captain Siddharth Chakravarty of The Steve Irwin at Cape Adare, AntarcticaAt about 1730 AEDT, just as I round Cape Adare, I pick out the distinct masts of a sailing vessel. I had some information of an expedition yacht being in the area but didn’t think I would stumble across her so easily in the vastness of Antarctica. Little did I know that this spotting will, for a brief period of 10 hours, add a fourth vessel to Operation Relentless.

Making a quick U-turn to ensure the Yushin Maru No. 2, my tailing vessel, does not spot her, I immediately call my Sailing Master, Mal, to see if he is willing to go and talk to the Skipper of the Infinity, to set rolling an audacious plan. I know it is a mighty request of an expedition boat but I take my chances anyway. The deck crew scramble into their cold weather gear and launch the Delta small boat in falling light. Someone jokes, “Imagine being anchored in the solitude of Antarctica and have a RHIB with four men in dry suits pull up to your boat. The Infinity’s crew is in for quite a shock.”

Read more: Asininity to the power of Infinity!

Worth Fighting For

by Captain Adam Meyerson
Captain of The Sam Simon

Captain Adam Meyerson of The Sam SimonIf you have never been on a ship, you might wonder how you will get along with the rest of the crew after you’ve all been at sea for weeks at a time. Today marks 60 days that The Sam Simon has been underway and I’ve shared this space with 28 other people. Apart from one day ashore to resupply, the crew has been the only people I’ve seen.

I am always amazed by how little friction there is between crewmates on Sea Shepherd ships. I think it is because we are all working for the common goal of preventing the slaughter of the great whales and any of our petty differences are put aside. There is nothing I would like to see more than if the rest of the world could do the same and realize that even if we disagree on many things, we can all agree on not killing whales.

Read more: Worth Fighting For

On Being Relentless - Update from the Southern Ocean Whale Sanctuary

by Captain Peter Hammarstedt
Captain of The Bob Barker

The Captains of Operation Relentless Photo: Eliza MuirheadThe Captains of Operation Relentless
Photo: Eliza Muirhead
With all three Sea Shepherd ships refueled, resupplied, and all three still tail-free, the second leg of Operation Relentless continues with the Sea Shepherd Fleet on track for delivering a record year of lives saved.

To sum up the first leg of the campaign, the whaling fleet was first located in the Southern Ocean Whale Sanctuary on the 5th of January, when The Steve Irwin's helicopter filmed four threatened and protected Minke Whales, butchered on the flensing deck of the floating abattoir Nisshin Maru. Based on when the whaling fleet departed Japan, there would have been few days of whaling prior to being found.

Read more: On Being Relentless - Update from the Southern Ocean Whale Sanctuary

Paul and the Sealing Boat

by Captain Peter Hammarstedt
Captain of The Bob Barker

Captain Peter Hammarstedt Photo: Simon AgerCaptain Peter Hammarstedt
Photo: Simon Ager
Even though almost forty years have passed since the photograph was taken, the image that I most equate with Captain Paul Watson’s life-long dedication to protect the oceans is still the one of him and Robert Hunter, blocking a sealing boat from entering the Gulf of St. Lawrence. Two men stand on an ice floe, with a baby harp seal in between them, as a massive ice-breaker bears down upon them. Neither man looks back in the direction of the sound of ice beginning to crack behind them.  Neither man moves, and the boat stops in the warm line that it was drawing through the ice. Many, many years later, Paul wrote of his late friend, “I looked over to Bob and saw that he wasn’t moving. I stayed because he stayed.”

In 2008, thirty-eight years after Paul and Bob stood down that sealing boat, The Steve Irwin, with Paul at the helm, slalomed through an ice-strewn sea trying to block a whale from being transferred onto the slipway of the Nisshin Maru. Half an hour earlier, the helicopter had captured footage of a whale being harpooned, along with video of the 22 minutes and 40 agonizing seconds that it took her to die.

Read more: Paul and the Sealing Boat

Defending the Antarctic Kingdom

by Captain Adam Meyerson
Captain of The Sam Simon

Captain Adam Meyerson of The Sam Simon Photo: Andrew J. CorrellCaptain Adam Meyerson of The Sam Simon
Photo: Andrew J. Correll
The sighting of the first iceberg marks the gateway to the Antarctic Kingdom, which is one of the few places on earth where nature is still allowed to exist in its unexploited glory. Sadly, not everyone agrees that we should leave this one last wild place in peace. Some people still want to rip riches out of the sea until the oceans are empty and dead. The “research” whaling fleet is one example of this mentality. The crew of The Sam Simon and all the Sea Shepherd ships and volunteers will fight against these violent ships of destruction with strength, resilience and non-violent direct action.

This year’s war began on January 6th with the finding of the Nisshin Maru, its decks covered in the blood and bodies of peaceful and intelligent Minke Whales. My crew and I were sickened and saddened – like most of the world - by the photos of this horrific killing machine’s grisly slaughter. These photos were taken by The Steve Irwin’s helicopter hours before the Sea Shepherd vessels Sam Simon, Bob Barker and Steve Irwin found the entire illegal whaling fleet. The poachers did what any criminal or coward does when confronted: they turned tail and ran.

Read more: Defending the Antarctic Kingdom

The Bloody Science of Whaling

by Captain Siddharth Chakravarty
Captain of The Steve Irwin

Captain Siddharth ChakravartyCaptain Siddharth Chakravarty
Photo: Eliza Muirhead
Conservative estimates put the number of whales killed between 1904 and 1987 in the Antarctic by commercial whaling fleets at 1,339,232. That’s an average of 16,000 whales per year – year after year – for 83 years.

The marauding ships wiped out one whale species after another in a descending order of size until their operations were halted by the moratorium on commercial whaling in 1986/87. By this time the whaling industry had decimated the baleen whale populations of the Southern Ocean.

Japan was opposed to the moratorium initially, but soon after introduced a “scientific” whaling program in the Antarctic. Japan’s assertion is that their whaling in the Southern Ocean is real “science.” Sea Shepherd’s assertion is that their “science” is bogus and below are listed reasons why we’re certain their whaling operations are commercial.

Read more: The Bloody Science of Whaling

A Special Meeting In Abidjan

by Captain Peter Hammarstedt
Captain of The Bob Barker

Captain Hammarstedt at the helm  Photo: Marianna BaldoCaptain Hammarstedt at the helm
Photo: Marianna Baldo
She was covered in red dust from earth only found in West Africa. Layers of grease and grime coated bulkheads almost wet from the lick of equatorial humidity. Cockroaches scattered at the flick of any light switch, half of which didn’t work. The Polaris, as she rested, tired, on her moorings in Abidjan, Cote d’Ivoire was a long way away from the fjords of Spitsbergen where she took tourists to photograph polar bears. Her engine started not with a roar but with a grumble as if to acknowledge, “This is where I was sent to die.” It was in Abidjan that I first laid eyes on her.

The Polaris had lived many lives before Sea Shepherd purchased her thanks to the generosity of Mr. Bob Barker. Born the fourteenth of a line of more than twenty sister ships, her keel was laid in Fredrikstad, Norway in 1951. From 1952 to 1962, she worked, together with her sisters, out of Grytviken in South Georgia, indiscriminately slaughtering blue and fin whales. That bloody business necessitated an ice-strengthened hull, the same hull that now allows Sea Shepherd to pursue the Japanese whaling fleet through any ice conditions.

Read more: A Special Meeting In Abidjan

Christmas Away From Home

by Captain Adam Meyerson
Captain of The Sam Simon

Captain Adam Meyerson, The Sam SimonThis campaign - my third with Sea Shepherd and my first as Captain - started with some difficulties that reminded me of just how many talented and hard working people are behind us as we head into the Southern Ocean to protect the great whales from being slaughtered by lawless poachers.

The Sam Simon was stuck at the dock, trapped by a small mechanical problem that was beginning to look like it did not have a simple solution. The crack Engineers from The Sam and The Steve Irwin, as well as Captain Sid, myself and some external consultants, worked on the problem, looked into contingencies and began to despair as the window to beat the murderous whaling fleet to the Southern Ocean Whale Sanctuary began to disappear. But after an incredible group effort our fears were laid to rest. The Engineers fixed the problem, The Sam was in the running again and we only lost a day of our well-cushioned lead! We couldn't have done this without all the supporters we have on the ships and on the shore, who rallied together at this critical juncture. Thank you to everyone! The ship is now running as perfectly as ever and is well-positioned to put an immediate halt to this year’s disgusting hit list calling for the murder of 935 innocent Minke Whales, 50 Endangered Fin Whales and 50 Protected Humpback Whales.

Read more: Christmas Away From Home

To Stand Up and Fight

by Captain Siddharth Chakravarty
Captain of The Steve Irwin

Captain of The Steve Irwin, Sid ChakravartyCaptain of The Steve Irwin, Sid ChakravartyAntarctica to date remains the only continent in the world where humans cannot survive unaided- it is simply too hostile, too frigid and too remote to allow us to settle. This white continent with its ever-changing landscape has held the interest and the imagination of explorers, historians, anthropologists and scientists alike for over 200 years.

In 1911 Roald Amundsen and his men, on board their vessel the Fram, landed in the Bay of Whales in the Ross Sea to conquer the South Pole. The great explorers unfailingly invoke awe and wonder because it is almost impossible to quantify the magnitude of their achievements whilst living in the comforts of the 21st Century. The Steve Irwin had a chance to be in the Bay of Whales in 2011 and the magnitude of the achievement was immediately apparent. A century after the “Heroic Age” of explorations ended, the Antarctic remains the unforgiving and desolate continent that Shackleton, Scott, Mawson and Amundsen, among many others, faced through their attempts to explore her.

Read more: To Stand Up and Fight

The Lives We Save

by Captain Peter Hammarstedt
Captain of The Bob Barker

Captain Peter Hammarstedt of the Sea Shepherd Ship, The Bob Barker.Captain Peter Hammarstedt of the Sea Shepherd Ship, The Bob Barker. photo: Simon AgerI'm often asked what drives and motivates me to keep returning to the Antarctic, year after year, to prevent the brutal slaughter of whales in the Southern Ocean Whale Sanctuary. What I've come to realize is that it isn't so much a question of what drives me, but rather who drives me, and that I'll be forever grateful to a long-finned Pilot Whale who I fought to save on a forlorn Tasmanian beach, several years ago.

In the Spring of 2008, 190 Pilot Whales and three Bottlenose Dolphins stranded on a beach in Naracoopa, a small enclave on King Island, a rocky outpost in the Bass Strait. Out of them 54 were still alive after being washing ashore in the surf. Captain Paul Watson asked me, and four other of his crew, to travel to Naracoopa and assist the local rescue effort.

Read more: The Lives We Save

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