Paul Watson: We come to defend the Antarctic Ocean whale sanctuary

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      For nine years, I have challenged the Japanese whaling fleet in the Southern Ocean.

      Robert Falcon Scott led two expeditions to Antarctica. Roald Amundsen led one expedition and Sir Ernest Shackleton led four expeditions and participated in Scott’s first expedition for a total of five expeditions in all. That makes eight Antarctic expeditions by these three famous Antarctic explorers.

      I realized this season that this is the ninth Antarctic expedition that I have embarked upon to challenge the Japanese whaling fleet in the Southern Ocean. That is a total of more than 27 months of time spent in these remote and hostile but awesomely beautiful waters.

      My total time does not exceed Shackleton or Scott, who wintered over many times, but it does exceed Ronald Amundsen who wintered over only once.

      Why is this relevant?

      What these three great explorers did a century ago along with explorers like Australians’ Sir Douglas Mawson and France’s Dumont d’Urville was to bring awareness of this mysterious continent to the people of the world. They were here for science, and they were also here to plant their countries’ flag at the pole. It was the early 20th century equivalent of the mid-20th century Soviet-American race for the moon.

      I won’t begrudge them that. I was a friend of Robert Falcon’s Scott’s son, Sir Peter Scott, and had more than a few conversations with him about Antarctica, about whales and birds and his father. I told him that I had always been a great admirer of the courage, tenacity, and sagacity of these three very different but all powerfully motivated men.

      But in truth, as much as I respect them, my respect for Sir Peter Scott was greater. This great ornithologist was a founder of the World Wildlife Fund and helped to create wildlife reserves around the world.

      Whereas his father was motivated by geography and science, Peter was motivated by wildlife and nature.

      The three Antarctic explorers certainly observed much of Antarctica’s wildlife in addition to killing and eating quite a bit of it as well. I have always felt that walking up to a friendly penguin and bashing it over the head with a club was hardly the way to greet the natives of a newly discovered continent; but then again it seems consistent with the “discoveries” of the Americas, Africa, and Australia.

      But they were men of their time, whereas Peter Scott was more a man of our time. He saw that the most pressing challenge of the 20th century was the conservation of wildlife, of biodiversity, and that is what he chose to focus on. In this way he was a greater inspiration than his father, for he had even more of what Amundsen called “sagacity” than his father before him.

      Sagacity is the quality of being discerning, sound in judgment and farsightedness.

      Robert Falcon Scott, just before he died, wrote a letter to his wife where he asked her to “make the boy interested in natural history if you can, it is better than games”.

      Peter Scott was only two years old when his father froze to death in his tent in that great frigid white wilderness whilst trying to return from the Pole.

      Captain Scott was the most scientifically inclined of the three aforementioned explorers and this example of sagacity motivated his son to become the great conservationist that he became.

      I am not an explorer in the same way as Scott, Shackleton, and Amundsen, but I have been locked in the south polar ice numerous times, stood on the Ross Ice Shelf, on Mount Erebus and Mount Terror, on Scott Island, weathered storms in McMurdo Sound, and gone ashore at the Bay of Whales to walk amongst the penguins. I have seen Shackleton’s hut and Mawson’s hut but most importantly I have had the privilege to see the same animals that they saw: the penguins, the whales, the seals, the skuas, the petrels, and the albatross.

      I am a different kind of Antarctic explorer, with the mission of defending and protecting diversity in these supposedly protected waters.

      The world declared this the Southern Ocean Whale Sanctuary, not I, but as a citizen of this planet, my crew and I have seen it as our responsibility to defend the integrity of the whale sanctuary.

      We are exploring the means to ensure the survival of the whales in the sanctuary from poachers who get away with their crimes simply by the fact that they are wealthy.

      And we are dedicated to seeing that this last relatively untouched continent is not assaulted in a greedy quest for coal, cobalt, uranium, and other minerals; that oil rigs will not be sunk offshore of the continent; and that the fish, the whales, seals, plankton, and penguins be unmolested. We need to have one place on this human-dominated planet that is not subject to our greed and ignorance. We need to let them be, to leave them alone and let them carry on their destinies without imposing our selfish will upon them.

      It is a daunting task to be sure but that is the task before us. Scott, Amundsen, and Shackleton opened the door to this continent and thankfully a century later the hordes of humans intent on profit through resource exploitation have been kept out because of the Antarctic Treaty.

      The only destructive invaders during the last century have been the whalers from Europe and Asia, and they undertook a great reaping of life from which the whales still have not fully recovered. The slaughter was ruthless, excessive, and cruel, and only when they ran out of whales to slay did they go home, leaving these waters to the few survivors who have struggled to recover over the last fifty years.

      Now the only unwelcome trespassers are the Japanese whalers, who spit upon the Southern Ocean Whale Sanctuary and contemptuously dismiss the global moratorium on commercial whaling and the rulings of the Australian Federal Court that prohibited whaling in Australian Antarctic territorial waters in 2008.

      For that is why I now have four ships, a helicopter, and 120 volunteers from 24 different nations down here in the ice waiting for the Japanese whaling fleet to arrive.

      We are the Antarctic explorers of the 21st century, and we come not to plant flags, not to chart the land, or examine the rocks, and certainly not to dine on penguins.

      We are here to explore the possibilities of defending the Southern Ocean Whale Sanctuary and to set an example for others to explore the ways to defend the continent of Antarctica itself from exploitation.



      Mario Louis Gandolfo Jr

      Jan 28, 2013 at 5:04pm

      Til every last one of their killing boats sail no more !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!


      Jan 28, 2013 at 5:20pm

      What these killers and the supporters of these killers FAIL to understand is that they can put Captain Paul Watson in jail for their political reasons, They can take the next four or five people under Captain Paul Watson and lock them up… But we will KEEP COMING!! This will NOT end UNTIL THEY STOP!! They have the power to end this at any time…. But arresting Captain Watson is NOT the answer to the killer’s prayers…. Or I should say the answer to their wicked greed…

      There are just TOOO many of us that will step up and take the places of everyone they wish to take out… If they wanted to end this… it should have been done in the 70’s before the world was made aware by SSCS of the killing, horrible slaughters the continue to do to amazing and beautiful beings!!

      There is NO stopping SSCS!! Its way past the time for that…. We will ALWAYS be here … and will NEVER go away… Unless the killers see and understand what they are doing is wrong legally and morally!! They can’t arrest thousands and thousands and thousands of people…


      Jan 28, 2013 at 5:21pm

      Keep up the good work ! Keep making us aware of what's going on out there. You seem to be the only one getting through to us .

      Susan McVey

      Jan 28, 2013 at 5:54pm

      We will NEVER be silent and we will NEVER give up until these awful killings have stopped. They are raping our oceans of these beautiful and gentle creatures that do no harm to man, for what pure and utter greed for money and nothing else.We are all with you Captain Paul, 1000%. Stay safe and lets hope we can stop these awful people from killing anymore Whales. x


      Jan 28, 2013 at 6:22pm

      The Japanese claim they are doing research. How does this "research" benefit the lives of the Japanese living thousands of miles away? It isn't like they are determining if the whales are eating the only remaining food source for the Japanese people. The killing is for pure profit and is pointless and must stop.


      Jan 28, 2013 at 6:24pm

      Awesome Job By All Your Crew, Keep It Up And Shut Them Down

      Gerean Pflug for "The Animal Spirits"

      Jan 28, 2013 at 6:28pm

      Paul Watson, his crew and the multitude of people who support the efforts of protection our planet's oceans and the wildlife that live there are the greatest heroes of our time. Because the governments of the world have failed to protect these efforts, it is up to individuals to rise to the task. Every letter written, phone call placed, petition signed, demonstration attended, every blogger, tweeter, volunteer and donator makes a difference. Our planet and our wildlife are screaming out for our empathy and action.

      Many blessings on those who take action and lend voice to the innocent, sentient living beings who cannot speak for themselves.

      Gerean Pflug for "The Animal Spirits"

      Jan 28, 2013 at 6:35pm

      I have been blogging to raise public awareness and influence empathy and compassion for the animal species and in particular, the work of The Sea Shepherd Conservation Society. I am adding a link to prose that I have written that I hope will prompt the hearts, minds and spirits of those who read, of the details involved in whaling and what the whales who are the victims of the merciless greed of man, must endure.


      Many blessings on those who take action and lend voice to the innocent, sentient living beings who cannot speak for themselves.

      ~Gerean Pflug for The Animal Spirits

      Kerry Smith

      Jan 28, 2013 at 7:08pm

      Thank all of you so much for what you do! The only people who ought to be jailed are the Japanese whalers who are illegally there whaling. Thinking of you every day and praying for your safety and success!

      Martin Field

      Jan 28, 2013 at 8:16pm

      This is a little bit rich to compare ones Antartic time in a cozy cabin to the ninetheenth c explorers who actually had to brave and endure the overland treck on foot with minimal equipment and foodstuffs in that era.
      One needs to accept they did what they could at that time. That being said, it would indeed be a serious miscalculation on the Japanese government if they think encarcerating Paul Watson would somehow make 'things' go away. On the contrary, they would have unleashed a tidalwave of indignation and a clear call for global action to ensure their continued poaching and raping of the Southern Antartic Whale Sanctuary is abruptly terminated.