Crew Blogs

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

 

Potential Victory for Whales Coming Up in the International Court of Justice (ICJ)

By Rod Marining, Co-Founder of Greenpeace
Quartermaster of the Sea Shepherd Flagship, The Steve Irwin

Rod Marining, co-founder of Greenpeace, and veteran Sea Shepherd crewmember Photo: Tim WattersPhoto: Tim WattersI believe that we will win, and that yes, Australia can win the International Court Case Against Japanese whaling!

On March 31st this year, it is my hope that the International Court of Justice (ICJ) will side with the Australian and New Zealand governments and state that “scientific whaling in the Southern Ocean Whale Sanctuary and the North Pacific will be prohibitive under International Law.” A ruling for whales has the potential to cause international political shock waves, and might pit numerous nations against Japan. It could even upset military alliances. Even trade sanctions against Japan might be threatened. If the ruling passes, and so-called scientific whaling is outlawed, then the world’s oceans, more than half the planet, will be a whale sanctuary. So-called scientific whaling being conducted in the North Pacific and Southern Oceans will be banned by the ICJ under its present form.

Read more: Potential Victory for Whales Coming Up in the International Court of Justice (ICJ)

Why We Fight!

Jake Parker
Camera Operator, The Steve Irwin

Camera Operator, Jake Parker Photo: Eliza MuirheadCamera Operator, Jake ParkerSometimes the doom and gloom of the world weighs me down and has sent me into depression at times; there are atrocities happening around the world that are unforgivable. The way the human race as a whole treats Earth, the one place we can live, makes it seem as if there is no hope. I have many times thought to myself, “What’s the point in fighting?” But something beautiful about the world always brings me back to fight harder.

Stepping onto the Antarctic continent and looking upon snow and ice capped peaks, and across at a rookery of Adelie Penguins, with some Weddell Seals sunbaking amongst them, was one of the most, if not the most, incredible things I have ever done. Thinking about all the destruction happening around the world, it’s comforting to know there is still so much beauty and tranquility left on Earth. It is moments like these that lift me from the sorrows I feel; they remind me that the fight for a planet not destroyed by the greedy few is worth my life.

Read more: Why We Fight!

Not Another Captivity Story…

Haans Siver
Quartermaster, The Steve Irwin

Steve Irwin Quartermaster, Haans  Photo: Tim Watters Steve Irwin Quartermaster, Haans
Photo: Tim Watters
Splash, aged 16. Suffered from epilepsy, crashed into a gate from a seizure, shattering her jaw. SeaWorld removed all her lower teeth; she later died from a perforated stomach.

Samoa, aged 9. Went into premature labor from a fungal infection; Sea World’s first Orca to die during labor.

Kotar, aged 17. Captured from the wild while barely a year old; he was playing with the gate when it closed on his head, crushing his skull and killing him.

Victoria. Hand-raised after being rejected by her mother, never made it past one year old.

Taku, aged 14. Separated from his mother at 14, was allowed to impregnate her, then died from a mosquito bite.

Read more: Not Another Captivity Story…

Full Circle

Biaggo Comeriato
Deckhand, The Bob Barker

Biaggo ComeriatoIt was a year and a half ago, but it feels like yesterday when I first told my mother I was going to take a stand with Sea Shepherd on the shores of Taiji, Japan in a progressive and important movement to stop the dolphin slaughter. Hesitant yet supportive, she stood by my decision. She didn’t know much about Taiji or what was happening there, but was keen to live and learn through my experiences.

Not a day goes by where I’m not haunted by what I witnessed in Taiji. I knew that going on this journey would bring me back a different person, but I didn’t expect it to have rippling effects for years to come.

I grew up in a small town where my adventurous spirit and willingness to take risks to better myself and be a positive force for those around me, separated me from my peers. My parents gave me a lot of freedoms, trusting me to make my own decisions, even if the outcomes were not so positive. Always learning and taking in and on the world, I started to notice how the selfishness and ignorance of myself, and the human world were affecting the environment and the other species of the planet.

Read more: Full Circle

Thinking Like a Child / Pensar Como un Niño

Iru Izquierdo
Photographer, The Sam Simon

En Español

Iru, photographer aboard The Sam Simon Photo: Andrew J CorrellIru, photographer aboard The Sam Simon Photo: Andrew J Correll“I’ve never stopped thinking like a child,” said Einstein. And neither should any of us – because this is the way to get to the heart of things.

When I was a little girl, I believed that I could talk to the sea, I thought the sea could recognize me and talk to me; I thought that she was as happy as I was when I was swimming in her. She taught me admiration and respect. I remember spending hours immersed in this other world, full of colours, shadows, silence and feeling peace.

Now, after two months living on the sea, surrounded by her, being sustained by her, I remember that little girl and the love that she had for the ocean.

Read more: Thinking Like a Child / Pensar Como un Niño

Auf Halben Weg Um Die Erde Aber Immer Noch Nicht Am Ende Der Mission

Maddy Matthiessen
Quartermaster, The Steve Irwin

Maddy, Director of Sea Shepherd Germany and Quartermaster on The Steve IrwinMein Name ist Maddy, ich bin 44 Jahre alt und Quartermaster auf der Steve Irwin. Dies ist meine zweite Antarktiskampagne mit Sea Shepherd und meine zweite Reise auf dem Flaggschiff der Sea Shepherd Conservation Society.

Januar 2012 stieg ich in Freemantle/Australien zu und verbrachte acht Wochen auf der Kampagne Operation Divine Wind. Die ersten Tage waren damals recht hart. Ich hatte stark mit Seekrankheit zu kämpfen und die Umstellung auf den Alltag an Bord dauerte eine Weile. Zum Glück helfen einem die Crewkollegen sofort bei den ersten Problemen und so konnte ich im November letzten Jahres etwas besser vorbereitet in die Kampagne starten.

Read more: Auf Halben Weg Um Die Erde Aber Immer Noch Nicht Am Ende Der Mission

The Oceans

Marcel Wensveen
Communications Officer, The Sam Simon

Marcel Wensveen, Communications Officer aboard The Sam Simon Photo: Andrew J CorrellMarcel Wensveen, Communications Officer aboard The Sam Simon
Photo: Andrew J Correll
Although we passed the 70 days being at sea we are still in campaign mode. I’m thinking about the whales that have lost their lives due to the Illegal poachers. They will never see daylight again and were taken because of somebody’s so-called “right” to do so. Whales are nobody’s and everybody’s, as all animals in the ocean are. The whale slaughter happens in Antarctica and is far away for a lot of people. This year, like others, we have exposed again what is happening and we did so with very graphic footage that caused a shockwave worldwide. If the poaching, with all the forthcoming violence that is done to the whales and crews defending them, will be accepted, the next step is that it will happen everywhere. As animals are not restricted by boundaries, borders, territorial or economical zones, it makes it your backyard too. Don’t let it become a dead end.

When are you in? When will you step up for the oceans?

Read more: The Oceans

Whale Guts

Andrew J Correll
Photographer, The Sam Simon

Photographer, Andrew Correll Photo: IraultzaPhotographer, Andrew Correll
Photo: Iraultza
It was a scene repeated every winter across the New Zealand Southern Alps. Howling winds blowing snow into our faces and wind so cold it cut through the multiple layers of our warm clothes. Except we weren’t in the Alps, we were deep within New Zealand’s Ross Sea. Kylie Maguire was nearing the end of her 30 minute shift on lookout. I had popped up to see if she needed a dry set of gloves or another set of eyes for a while. The Sam Simon was close to full speed in hot pursuit of the poaching fleet, our bow was covered in ice from the freezing seawater. The occasional wave was breaking over our bow but the sea spray was turning to ice before it blasted around us. From the side of my eye I caught a glimpse of something racing by close to our beam and I realised, with dismay, that it was whale guts. My camera was at hand so I threw it to my eye and started shooting. Within seconds it was disappearing into the blizzard surrounding us.

Read more: Whale Guts

The Highs and Lows of Life at Sea

Steve Ward
Fourth Engineer, The Steve Irwin

Steve Ward in Dunedin, New ZealandSteve Ward in Dunedin, New ZealandRoll left, roll right, pitch forward, pitch back – feel sick, lie down, get tired, hug the railing, and stare at the sea until I feel better. The latter made up my first week on board The Steve Irwin. I actually woke up feeling 100% the first morning but the sea quickly sent me downhill, at speed. Yes, this is my first time at sea (apart from 2 massive cruise ships, which do not count). It was on my shifts that the nausea and tiredness really affected me, as I was not able to lay down and had to actually stand upright and try to function.

When I was young, my Dad had a nickname for me, Mr. Horizontal. After I'd eat a big meal, I would just lie down and not move. Even now, in my 30s, at sea, on shift, I was getting a good idea how the pipework weaved around the ceiling of the engine room. I swear it didn't matter where I was, what I was next to – main engine, generator, noisy, smelly, oily, hot, cold – I was having to go horizontal to try to recover from the seasickness.

Read more: The Highs and Lows of Life at Sea

Rolling with the Rolls

Alana Tompson
Camera Operator, The Steve Irwin

Alana, Camera Operator on The Steve Irwin, with Production Manager, AshleighAlana, Camera Operator on The Steve Irwin, with Production Manager, AshleighWe are now halfway through our campaign and I have well and truly adapted to life at sea. I hardly notice the sound of the propeller under my cabin anymore and actually wake up when the engines are turned off, rather than the other way around. I can navigate the hallways and stairs in a rolling sea with competence (I’m not at the “with grace” stage yet, but I don’t come as close to falling backwards down the stairs as often as I used to!). I’ve developed a quick reaction time when it comes to catching an object flying off a table, and I’ve acclimatised to living in Antarctica.

This ship has become my home and I’ve made some great like-minded friends and enjoy my day-to-day life that I lead here. As one of the camera operators I do the 12-4 shift on the Bridge alongside the First Mate, Vince and one of the Quartermasters, Haans. I always look forward to my shift, and I’m lucky enough to thoroughly enjoy the company of my 12-4 comrades, otherwise known as the A-Team!

Read more: Rolling with the Rolls

Mijn tijd aan boord van Sea Shepherd Schip Sam Simon

Wyanda Lublink
First Officer, The Sam Simon

Snow falls on the The Sam Photo: Andrew J CorrellSnow falls on the The Sam
photo: Andrew J Correll
Op 27 November 2013 stapte ik voor het eerste aan boord van de Sam Simon als eerste officier nadat ik net 2 maanden aan boord van Sea Shepherd schip de Jairo Mora Sandoval in Zuid-Afrika had gewerkt in de campagne tegen de illegale visserij in Afrika. Op het moment dat ik voor de Antarctica campagne werd gevraagd hoefde ik daar geen twee tellen over na te denken. Mee naar Antarctica om de walvissen te beschermen tegen de Illegale Japanse walvisstropers…..natuurlijk doe ik dat!!!!

Elke jaar probeert de Illegale Japanse walvisvaart meer dan 1000 walvissen te vermoorden in Antarctica. Japan heeft zichzelf dit quotum opgelegd onder het noemer van de “wetenschap”. Zij vinden dat zij het recht hebben om deze walvissen op een afschuwelijk manier te doden. Het is verboden om deze walvissen voor commerciele doeleinden te doden, dus gebruikt de Japanse overheid een maas in de wet: doden voor wetenschappelijk onderzoek. Helaas is het maar al te duidelijk naar voren gekomen dat al het walvisvlees op de Japanse markt terecht komt.

Read more: Mijn tijd aan boord van Sea Shepherd Schip Sam Simon

Searching for Whales

Cristina Cely
Medical Officer & Quartermaster, The Bob Barker

Cristina CelyLast December as we were getting ready to leave port I was asked if I would be interested in taking over a very special task – documenting cetaceans in the Southern Ocean as part of Sea Shepherd’s research collaboration with Ocean Alliance, supported by Living Oceans. Seriously? This is a dream come true, how could I not want to be part of such an incredible project? With my excitement raised all the way to the sky and without knowing what this adventure would bring to my days over the following months, I armed myself with a camera, a pen and paper, and embarked on a beautiful journey where my perspective of my beloved “gorditas” (tender expression used in Ecuador to refer to someone special and adorable), would change as I got to know them more a little bit every day.

Read more: Searching for Whales

Remember This

Phil Peterson
Bosun, The Bob Barker

Phil Peterson, Bosun, The Bob Barker Photo: Marianna BaldoPhil Peterson, Bosun, The Bob Barker  Photo: Marianna BaldoThe Bob Barker has been at sea for over 60 days. Leaving Australia and heading down into the treacherous seas of the Southern Ocean I remember how young my Deck Crew were, many of them on their first campaign. As we trained I had a hard time remembering that these compassionate young people that volunteered their time to come aboard The Bob did not know what I knew. I would lie in my bunk worrying that when we encountered the illegal whale poachers that their compassion would be little help when up against a professional killing ship. Envisioning the violence that these men could unleash on us and remembering their commitment to hunt down helpless and defenseless whales would at times keep my nights sleepless.

I came to Sea Shepherd bringing my years of experience, and hope that I could do whatever it takes to help stop the wholesale slaughter of a majestic and sometimes mystical being of the oceans. Taking into account the responsibility I had been given in the training of my crew under the command of Captain Peter Hammarstedt, there have been times when I have not been very popular with the way I run my crew. I have always been fair but committed to training under the ideal that if you don't train as if its real, you will not remember a thing when the “s*** hits the fan”.

Read more: Remember This

Life at sea

Alex DiPietro
Deckhand, The Bob Barker

Bob Barker deckhand, AlexBob Barker deckhand, AlexLife at sea for me is unlike anything I’ve ever experienced, let alone going to Antarctica for the first real time, out on a ship. I’ve never been in a place that feels so untouched, remote. The first days of our search for the whaling fleet included being up in the crow’s nest with a pair of binoculars; I was able to see for miles and miles all around. Every now and then we’d pass by a big growler, as well as pods of Humpback and Minke Whales. This is the most pristine place on earth that I’ve ever experienced.

Out at sea, things change. The quiet of my cabin, while in port, has now been replaced with the roaring sounds of the main engine and its whining turbochargers, the vibrations of which can be felt everywhere on the ship. It gives everything a slight rattle. Sometimes in seas that make The Bob Barker roll to a steep angle, it’s difficult to keep from being flung from our blue couch in the lounge.

Read more: Life at sea

Uncompromising Commitment

Nick Rees
Deckhand, The Steve Irwin

Deckhand, Nick ReesSea Shepherd sends our ships to Antarctica each year for one purpose and one purpose only – to stop the whalers. And history tells us that we’re pretty effective at doing it. The whalers originally came down here with one purpose and one purpose only – to kill whales. History also tells us that they were very good at it – too good, in fact.

But in the last 10 years the whalers have swayed from their primary purpose. They have been forced to put a lot of attention into stopping Sea Shepherd. And it is this where they have moved from not only killing innocent whales, but to recklessly harming human life as well.

Read more: Uncompromising Commitment

Krill

Simon Ager
Photographer, The Bob Barker

Simon Agerkrill |kril|(noun): a small shrimplike planktonic crustacean of the world’s oceans. It is eaten by a number of larger animals.

[Meganyctiphanes norvegica, class Malacostraca.]  ORIGIN early 20th Century: from Norwegian kril “young fry of fish.”

In the Southern Ocean, Antarctic krill replace small fish as a major food supply for larger animals, notably baleen whales (Minke, Humpback, Fin and Blue whales) seals and seabirds.

Krill, believe it or not, is one of the most important species on the planet. Without it, most of the lifeforms in the Antarctic would disappear. It is the base for many food chains around the world.

Read more: Krill

Sixth Man-made Extinction Still on Deadly Course

Patrick Deckers
Ship's Doctor, The Steve Irwin

Patrick Deckers, Ship’s Doctor and Aviation Dept. AssistantPatrick Deckers, Ship’s Doctor and Aviation Dept. AssistantBeing part of Sea Shepherd's crew down in the Southern Ocean Whale Sanctuary feels good in many ways. This tenth campaign shows that Sea Shepherd is the only organisation that is willing to take direct action against illegal poaching of protected and near-extinct whales. Being actively involved fills me with pride. Of course, every whale that can be saved we celebrate as a victory, but this crew knows there is much more effort needed on a global scale to try to save this planet.

This crew has reached a heightened level of awareness on every environmental issue. Lots of people will find this statement arrogant, but I find the opposite more arrogant; the majority of the world is still in denial. As a human, and even more as a medical doctor, I know that denial is a normal process of coping with stress. Otherwise we would wake up every morning in panic on how many ways our lives and the world will end. Our brain has coping mechanisms to put these existential fears aside and focus on stress that we can cope with, like going to work, paying our taxes and buying that new car. So in a way everybody is aware of these existential threats, like man-made global warming, out of control human growth, accelerating depletion of all resources, devastating abuse of the environment and animals in factory farming, and a mind-blowing extinction rate of total ecosystems.

Read more: Sixth Man-made Extinction Still on Deadly Course

From My Own Eyes

Haans Siver
Quartermaster, The Steve Irwin

Quartermaster, Haans Siver Photo: Eliza Muirhead February 2, 2014 was a normal day. I woke up to go to my shift and did my usual routine of stretching out all the creaks that my bones have developed from sleeping in a small bunk. I got ready, and went to the Bridge to be greeted by my fellow Quartermaster, Cassie, who said, “They’re here.” I was unsure what she meant till I saw the look on her face. The three Yushins were approaching.

I was standing on the Bridge with Sid, our Captain, and Vincent, our First Officer, keeping an eye out on the three harpoon vessels. The next thing I knew, a Yushin was coming up on our port side, so close to us you could touch it. From what I understand of maritime law, international collision regulations specify that it is illegal both to overtake a stand-on vessel (which in this situation was The Steve Irwin) unless from a safe distance, and to also to cause the stand-on vessel to take any action that would require it to alter speed or change course.

Read more: From My Own Eyes

You Sense, My Scent

Jake Parker
Camera Operator, The Steve Irwin

What do you see?
Endless plains for grazing,
An open ocean with no end,
Soaring trees blocking out the light?

What do you hear?
Mouths munching on the green grass,
Waves crashing onto deserted beaches,
Wind blowing through the leaves of giants?

What do you smell?
Flowers budding after the rains have fallen,
Seaweed slowly baking in the sun’s rays,
Slippery moss clinging to veins of life?

Camera Operator, Jake Parker Photo: Eliza Muirhead

Read more: You Sense, My Scent

Teardrops

Sonja Hyppänen
Deckhand and Crane Operator, The Steve Irwin

At work on The Steve Photo: Tim WattersAt work on The Steve
Photo: Tim Watters
Sometimes I think I was born in the wrong era. I dream of past times, when wind and adventure were the main engine on ships. Gone are the days when the sea was a great unknown, full of beasts and wonders. Anything humans can catch we have caught and so much more.

Life on Sea Shepherd ships is not about adventure or personal gain. It is hard and heartbreaking work. Still I think there is a spot in all of our hearts that feels great satisfaction when we cross the southern seas to this remote, wild end of our planet.

Life on a ship is a reward in itself. You live and react and watch the weather change. Ships have enabled me to learn and to love. This is my sixth year living aboard a ship. At times I still feel like a sail trainee, learning the ropes on my first schooner.

Read more: Teardrops

We Are United

Jessica Guertin
Deckhand, The Sam Simon

Deckhand, Jess Guertin Photo: Iraultza DariasDeckhand, Jess Guertin
Photo: Iraultza Darias
For days our visibility has been stolen by fog. Sometimes snow flurries dance upon the windows of the Bridge, but mostly the atmosphere is dead. Antarctica has become a haunting place, where weeks have passed without whale sightings or sightings of much else other than our ethereal, frozen neighbours that reach out from the mist.

Time has no meaning here. The air is still, the water flat, the silence deafening. Hour after hour our crew search the limited horizon for the infamous slaughterhouse disrupting one of Mother Nature’s last refuges. Our vessel creeps through the fog, creating a sound and vibration that ripples through the waters around us. Even our presence as conservationists feels like an intrusion in this tranquil and pristine environment.

Read more: We Are United

The Curiosity of the Adelie Penguin

Ben Harris
Quartermaster, The Sam Simon

Ben Harris, Quartermaster aboard The Sam Simon Photo: Iraultza DariasBen Harris, Quartermaster aboard The Sam Simon Photo: Iraultza DariasIt was a few weeks ago now, I was out on the portside wing of the Bridge when I first heard him calling. We were gently but forcibly maneuvering our way through the encircling ice pack that seemed to be penning us in from all angles. I was looking down over the side and reporting back to the warmth of the Bridge as to how much wiggle room we had to the side of us.

We were making quite a racket by Antarctica’s standards, as the ice around us reluctantly relented and, with much moaning and groaning, let us pass a few feet at a time.

It was this racket that I assume had piqued the attention of our friend, who I could hear but not yet see. I craned my neck upwards searching for the source of the cry, expecting to see an Albatross or Petrel hovering above, but found none.

Read more: The Curiosity of the Adelie Penguin

A Tear of Compassion

Phil Peterson
Bosun, The Bob Barker

Phil PetersonThere are very few of us that get the opportunity to sail down to the Antarctic Ocean. For most of us, we only get a glimpse of the seascape through photographs and the documentaries produced by researchers and scientists. The beauty of one of the last relatively untouched oceans of the world can be seen through their lenses, and we awe at what it must be like to actually witness an Albatross gliding effortlessly above the waves, or the playful agility of an Adelie penguin slicing through the waves.

I remember the first time I saw a photograph of a tabletop iceberg and the caption told me it was as big as Manhattan Island in New York. How does one comprehend the amount of snow that fell for thousands, if not tens of thousands of years, to create such a massive quantity of ice? Then, what force it must have took for it to shear away from the continent and drift out into the sea.

Read more: A Tear of Compassion

Hanging in there

Phil Peterson
Bosun, The Bob Barker

Poor weather is just part of a day’s work  Photo: Simon AgerPoor weather is just part of a day’s work Photo: Simon AgerMonths of work, toiling in the depths of a steel beast have left a mark on my soul. Weeks have passed since we left Hobart. I listen to the breath of this ship, sucking in the air of decades of death for countless whales, and seemingly spitting out the only compassion there is in this area of sea this time of year.

The Bob Barker was once a harpoon ship that now saves whales, how ironic. The Southern Ocean is a rare pristine place on this planet; royal blue waters with white-capped waves, Albatross majestically gliding across the surface, Adele penguins splashing with no apparent reason other than to do so. On occasion a single “Blackfish” Orca comes to the surface and quickly disappears. Below there are the Humpbacks, Fin, Pilot and Minke Whales, migrating as they have done for ten thousand years. Once, Sperm Whales were so many it was said you could walk on their backs for miles. Chilean sea bass, and a hundred other species of fish call this their home.

Read more: Hanging in there

Broken Majestic

Danielle Singleton
Producer, The Sam Simon

Producer, Danielle Singleton Photo: Andrew J CorrellProducer, Danielle Singleton
Photo: Andrew J Correll
Open your eyes, what can you see?
Is it clear to you as it is to me?
The poisonous touch of humankind,
That seems to make the world go blind

A bloodstained smear
On what once was perfection,
Ignored by governments
For the sake of election

When the other cheek is turned
Much more than darkness is missed;
The love returned by the mother
Like lips against a forehead kissed

Read more: Broken Majestic

Emerging from the Fog

Lex Rigby
Bosun's Mate, The Bob Barker

Bosun’s Mate, Lex Rigby Photo: Marianna BaldoBosun’s Mate, Lex Rigby
Photo: Marianna Baldo
The day started much like any other day. We’d been riding out the weather, waiting for a gap to charge in the bay we felt sure we’d find the whaling fleet in. We were all set, fully prepared to shut down their bloody business for the season. Our hopes had been dashed for days; there had been no whale sightings, no activity on radar, and the visibility had a habit of dropping every time we’d been ready to make our move. The waiting game was killing us and then, slowly, it happened.

At 0910 hours we saw something floating in the water, gently rolling along the swell. It was being carried away in search of a happier place, the remnants of a once magnificent, living, breathing, feeling friend. What we saw in the icy waters of the Southern Ocean whale sanctuary was the discarded innards of the whaling fleet’s latest victim – a life not taken in vain, but rather a life that gave us new hope and determination, strengthening our resolve. It’s one of the saddest sights you could see down here, and yet we felt an odd sense of relief knowing we were searching in the right area.

Read more: Emerging from the Fog

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