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Meet the Crew - International Volunteer Day 2021

Sunday, 05 Dec, 2021

Today is International Volunteer Day and we're celebrating all of the incredible volunteers that make up the Sea Shepherd movement! 

 

Meet some of our dedicated and passionate team below. 

"I wear my onshore crew t-shirt with pride. I feel like I’m making a difference."

- Sarah Briggs, Sea Shepherd Tasmania Volunteer

Why do you volunteer for Sea Shepherd? I joined Sea Shepherd because it is an action based organisation. When governments won’t do what they’re supposed to do like stop the Japanese Whaling Fleet from whaling in the Southern Ocean, Sea Shepherd gets the job done. When Governments want to protect their marine reserves from illegal fishing boats but don’t have the capacity to do it, Sea Shepherd lends a hand (and a ship!) to get the job done. Sea Shepherd’s actions make visible the effects of criminal activity and plastic pollution on our ocean, brings to the forefront the threats to all wildlife living there.

There are so many environmental problems facing us now. I care about lots of them but don’t have the energy to give to them all. So I picked Sea Shepherd as my focus. We are doing so much important work here and around the world and I feel part of it all when I’m working on a stall, talking to someone about what we do, picking up rubbish at the beach. I wear my Onshore Crew t-shirt with pride. I feel like I’m making a difference.

What's most important to you about ocean conservation? 

It’s easy for people to not give much thought to what happens in the ocean. It’s just there. The link between the health of the ocean and our own survival on the land is not emphasised enough. An ocean with diverse, properly functioning ecosystems are critical to life on the planet. More specifically, I love orcas and want them to continue to live in a healthy environment. 

What do you find most rewarding about being with Sea Shepherd and why? 

Getting involved with Sea Shepherd introduces you to some amazing people. You learn so much about oceans around Australia and the globe. There are bad news stories but there is also good news about the victories we have – victories that need the help of all of us in the organisation. If we don’t sell the merchandise the ships can’t operate.

"The beauty and importance of nature is almost beyond words."

- James Brook, Captain of the M/V Ocean Warrior

How long have you been volunteering, what's your role and which ship? I have been volunteering as ships crew for Sea Shepherd since 2009. I started as a deckhand on the Steve Irwin and since then have also crewed on Sam Simon, Bob Barker, Bridget Bardot, and Ocean Warrior. I have been Bosun, Ship Manager, Boat driver, Medic, Diver, Crane Operator, Bridge Officer, Chief Mate, Captain.

Why do you volunteer for Sea Shepherd? I have been an activist all my adult life, trying to stop the destruction of our environment. I always like direct action because you can see the results immediately; it really feels like something is being achieved instead of endless meetings and talking. Sea Shepherd has always had direct action at the core of its campaigns, and after all these years I still feel we are getting results. The era to make a difference to protect the environment is now, not in 5 years, not next generation. Now. Already climate change is in motion, potentially unstoppable. It makes me incredibly sad and angry to realise that the world I grew up in will never exist again, that many species of plants and animals are going extinct. Humans had a paradise on earth and it seems we are obsessed with destroying it. I hope by our actions and example in Sea Shepherd we can somehow make a stand and help some marine species to survive. And to also encourage everyone on the planet to treasure our real wealth: nature.

What's most important to you about ocean conservation? The beauty and importance of nature is almost beyond words. Marine creatures are similarly hidden from us underwater. Most people never experience the marine world up close. Its a mystery, we find it hard to relate to fish, crabs, plankton. I'm a scuba and free diver, I've had a small taste of the undersea world. We need to give it space to recover from the unseen devastation humans have caused. Ocean acidification and sea temperature rising are doing so much damage. It seems to be insanity to do large scale commercial fishing in this context. Trying to take more and more, when there is less and less. The fishing industry model is from the 20th or 19th century, from a time when the creatures of the ocean seemed never ending and plentiful. 

It is time for us to push the reset button and rethink how we do everything. Large scale commercial fishing is madness, an industry which is guaranteeing its own destruction and therefore accelerating the catch to get more before it's all gone—such greed and selfishness.

Our IUU campaigns directly target one of the most destructive parts of the commercial fishing world, where few other organisations are active. Stopping it is something we are capable of with our fleet and all our hard-working crew and supporters. I get a good feeling imagining the marine creatures, swimming in the depths, being left at peace when we arrest another IUU vessel.

Why should other people get involved with Sea Shepherd? This is the era to protect the environment. If humans survive the next few decades, people will look back and ask "what did you do while nature collapsed? Did you make a stand, try and help? Or did you just give up and keep consuming? "There is no excuse anymore. Everyone knows about Global Warming. Everyone knows we are in an environmental crisis. Get onboard, it's your duty to yourself, to the future generations, to life.

What do you find most rewarding about being with Sea Shepherd and why? I love it when the crew is working like a well-oiled machine, carrying out operations smoothly and safely, whether it's a boat launch, boarding, docking or cleaning the galley at the end of a shift. The camaraderie and great feeling of working with other sea shepherd crew, giving our all for something bigger than ourselves is very special.

"If you are passionate about ocean conservation, marine wildlife or cleaning up beaches - this is the organisation for you!"

- Sian Tibbenham, Adelaide Chapter Coordinator

Why do you volunteer for Sea Shepherd? The thing I love most about Sea Shepherd is how direct action we are. If we see an issue, we jump straight in headfirst. This approach really sets us apart and is why we are known for what we do and who we are.

What's most important to you about ocean conservation? Defending the marine wildlife that cannot defend themselves in the face of issues like Illegal, Unregulated and Unreported (IUU) fishing, plastic pollution and the countless other threats we have to our ocean. Protecting the amazing ocean marine life that we are so privileged to experience. And conserving things like the Great Barrier Reef to ensure we can still experience and enjoy it for years to come.

Why should people get involved with Sea Shepherd? Volunteering with Sea Shepherd in any kind of capacity - whether it be onshore or as a crew member on any of our ships - means that you are directly helping our world's ocean right now and for years to come. If you are passionate about ocean conservation, marine wildlife or cleaning up beaches - this is the organisation for you!

What do you find most rewarding about being with Sea Shepherd and why? Being able to be involved and connected to a like-minded community is so rewarding, along with being able to educate the public on who Sea Shepherd is and the current threats to our ocean. 

"Inspired by the documentary 'Watson' portraying Sea Shepherd's founder and his dedication to fighting for our ocean and all marine life, I decided that action was better than frustration."

- Charlotte Lebrun, Sydney Chapter Co-coordinator

Why do you volunteer for Sea Shepherd? Growing up, I was fortunate enough to spend a lot of my time outdoors and travel to different parts of the world. That instilled in me a real fascination with the natural world. As I grew older, I became more aware of the growing threats to these ecosystems, the many lives that depend on them for survival, and our planet as a whole.

One day, inspired by the documentary Watson portraying Sea Shepherd's founder and his dedication to fighting for our ocean and all marine life, I decided that action was better than frustration. I wanted to get physically involved and feel like I was really making a difference, which is why I joined my local chapter as an active onshore volunteer.

What's most important to you about ocean conservation? Extensive research has shown that the ocean provides us with everything we need to survive, from producing oxygen and food, to regulating our climate and temperatures. A healthy ocean is essential for human existence. Yet, we continue to cause extensive damage to this source of life through overfishing, habitat destruction, pollution and many other forms of human exploitation. Whether we want it or not, protecting and defending the ocean is, in reality, a question of self-preservation!

Why should people get involved with Sea Shepherd? It is our responsibility to work for a better future, for our ocean, and for all life on Earth. It’s a future worth fighting for! Everything matters, and everyone can make a real difference and help protect our ocean. By working together, we can accomplish so much more than any of us could do on our own.

If you feel like you want to be part of the solution and do more than protest and sign petitions in the fight for a cause very close to your heart, I cannot recommend volunteering with Sea Shepherd enough. Passion is all you need!

What do you find most rewarding about being with Sea Shepherd and why? What I find most rewarding about being with Sea Shepherd is to be part of something where people haven’t given up hope. We are all here for the same reasons and work hand in hand to make the change we want to see in the world happen. I am extremely grateful to volunteer alongside other passionate and inspiring people. Volunteering with Sea Shepherd certainly increased my sense of purpose.

"Our onshore volunteers are the lifeblood of the organisation. Every single person can make a difference, and as a direct action organisation, Sea Shepherd gives everyone the opportunity to do that."

- Del Jordan, Melbourne Chapter Coordinator

Why do you volunteer for Sea Shepherd? As a little kid, I absolutely loved the ocean. I was one of those kids who would go in the water even when it was the middle of a freezing Melbourne winter! And yet, as a kid, and even as an adult, I took the ocean for granted. I didn’t realise some of the devastating things happening to our ocean right under my nose, such as whaling, overfishing, marine debris, habitat destruction, just to name a few. 

Sometimes it felt overwhelming as the ocean seems like such a big place. And then I heard of Sea Shepherd and it opened my eyes to the fact that even a small grassroots organisation (back in 2013) could make such a huge difference. This team of volunteers were literally throwing everything they could to protect our ocean and defend marine life, and it inspired me to join. 

Sea Shepherd has grown a lot since I joined in 2013! We mostly focused on the devastating slaughter of whales in Antarctica back then. Now we have ships all over the world, protecting all types of marine creatures. We have grown so much over the years to become a movement and I’m just so incredibly proud to be part of it. 
 

What's most important to you about ocean conservation? I’ve always been an activist, but it often seems that we put a lot of focus on the land and environment around us that we see every day. And this is understandable as land is tangible. It’s only in recent times that with climate change being highlighted as a real threat to our planet that people are starting to take notice of our ocean and the state it is in; our ocean is no longer ‘out of sight and out of mind’. People are starting to wake up to what is happening as a result of things such as overfishing in our ocean and the devastating amount of marine life getting caught up in it. Living in a country like Australia with such beautiful coastlines and home to unique marine wildlife not seen anywhere else in the world – it’s important that we take charge and stop what’s happening to preserve these for our future generations. If we don’t do it, no-one else will. 

Why should people get involved with Sea Shepherd? Being a volunteer for Sea Shepherd, you are truly making a difference. Many people believe you have to be a crew member and volunteer at sea to make a difference. This is so far from true – our onshore volunteers are the lifeblood of the organisation. Every single person can make a difference, and as a direct action organisation, Sea Shepherd gives everyone the opportunity to do that. As a volunteer, you are making a difference to our ocean through giving your time - whether it be speaking to the public about Sea Shepherd, giving a school talk to our younger generation, volunteering on a beach clean, or raising funds to get our ships out on campaign – you can see the results of your efforts and know they are appreciated!

What do you find most rewarding about being with Sea Shepherd and why? Sea Shepherd is more than just an organisation I volunteer for– to me, it's become a huge part of my life. I have met so many wonderful and inspiring people and made so many friends from all over the world thanks to Sea Shepherd. When I've travelled around the world, there's always been a Sea Shepherd volunteer to welcome me with open arms! It's not just an organisation; it becomes a family. It's so rewarding being part of an organisation with like-minded individuals who inspire you every day, with their commitment and passion for our ocean. Being Coordinator for 5 years of one of the biggest chapters in the world and leading them has given me experiences I wouldn't trade for anything, as well as the knowledge that I've made such a difference in that time is wonderful. 

"I thought Sea Shepherd was a good organisation because they were not just words, not just protesting, but physically doing it."

- Adam Shostak, Byron Bay Chapter Co-coordinator

Why do you volunteer for Sea Shepherd? I started volunteering for Sea Shepherd because they were the only organisation that was standing up against the Japanese whaling fleet's harpoons. I noticed how brave the crew were. I liked that. I thought Sea Shepherd was a good organisation because they were not just words, not just protesting, but physically doing it. Sea Shepherd had ships as their weapons and brave crew. 

What's most important to you about ocean conservation? I didn't know anything about ocean conservation before joining Sea Shepherd. I learnt it all through being a part of the organisation. Through Sea Shepherd being active out in the ocean, I have learnt about important issues regarding ocean conservation, like pollution. The number one is plastic, and others such as oil, chemicals and ghost nets. A lot is being cleaned up, which is a step in the right direction. Thanks to Sea Shepherd, a lot has been done, which is fantastic.

Why should people get involved with Sea Shepherd? If we don't get people's support and volunteers, there is no Sea Shepherd. Sea Shepherd is involved in ocean awareness and what's happening to the ocean. The ocean provides us with a large quantity of oxygen, and we want more protection for sanctuaries where fish breed. Get involved, because I can't do it alone. We can't do it alone. It is a big problem, the state of the world and the state of the ocean. 

What do you find most rewarding about being with Sea Shepherd and why? I didn't get involved with Sea Shepherd for rewards. However, I did get my reward when Sea Shepherd helped stop the harpooning of the beautiful whales in the Southern Ocean! My reward was also seeing thousands of humpback whales pass the Byron Bay Lighthouse, when 14 years ago there were less than 200 passing. Now there are so many you lose count. 

Interesting in joining the Sea Shepherd movement? Discover ways to get involved.

 

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