Established in 1977, Sea Shepherd
Conservation Society (SSCS) is an international non-profit, marine wildlife
conservation organization. Our mission is to end the destruction of habitat and
slaughter of wildlife in the world's oceans in order to conserve and protect
ecosystems and species. Sea Shepherd uses innovative direct-action tactics to
investigate, document, and take action when necessary to expose and confront
illegal activities on the high seas. By safeguarding the biodiversity of our
delicately-balanced ocean ecosystems, Sea Shepherd works to ensure their
survival for future generations.
Sea Shepherd Conservation
Society was formally incorporated in the United States in 1981 in the
state of Oregon. Previous to this, the idea of Sea Shepherd was formed
when Captain Paul Watson founded the Earth Force Society in 1977 in
Vancouver BC, Canada. The original mandate of both organizations was
marine mammal protection and conservation with an immediate goal of
shutting down illegal whaling and sealing operations, but Sea Shepherd
later expanded its mission to include all marine wildlife.
In 1978, with financial
support from Cleveland Amory of the Fund for Animals, the Society
purchased its first ship (a British sea trawler Westella)
and renamed it the Sea Shepherd. Its first
mission was to sail to the ice floes of Eastern Canada to interfere with
the annual killing of baby harp seals known as whitecoats. In the same
year, the Sea Shepherdhunted down and rammed
the notorious prolific pirate whaler the Sierra
in a Portugal harbor ending its infamous career as the scourge of the
Since those early days, Sea
Shepherd has embarked on over 200 voyages covering many of the world's
oceans and defending and saving defenseless marine life all along the way.
The Current Fleet
M/Y Bob Barker
On January 5, 2010, another
Sea Shepherd anti-whaling ship arrived in the Southern Ocean to join the
2009-2010 Antarctic Whale Defense Campaign, Operation Waltzing Matilda
unexpected and right on time: the Bob Barker.
Thanks to a $5,000,000 contribution from American television
personality and icon Bob Barker, Sea Shepherd was able to quietly purchase
and refit the former Norwegian whaler in Africa. The ice-strengthened,
fast, chaser boat quietly departed from Mauritius on December 18th to join
up with the Sea Shepherd ships Steve Irwin and Ady Gil
in the Southern Ocean.
Barker has also funded the cost of a helicopter that will accompany the
societys ships. The aircraft is named The Nancy Burnet after the
president of United Activists for Animal Rights, an organization Barker
also supports. This new helicopter will participate in future campaigns.
"I'm delighted to be able to help the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society in
its mission to end the destruction of habitat and slaughter of wildlife in
the worlds oceans," said Barker. "There is lot of talk about preserving
our ecosystems and species, but this is one organization that puts these
words into action."
December 5, 2007 just before the 2007-2008 Antarctic Whale Defense
Campaign: Operation Migaloo began to defend the whales of the Southern
Oceans, the Sea Shepherd vessel M/Y Robert Hunter was officially
re-named the Steve Irwin in honor of the late Australian
conservationist. The name change was announced at a press conference by
Irwin's widow Terri Irwin and Captain Paul Watson at the Melbourne
Docklands just prior to the ship's departure to the Antarctic Whale
is proud to partner with Terri Irwin for this name change as she and Steve
have been world renowned for their conservation work. At the press
conference, Terri stated that Steve would have been extremely honored to
be acknowledged in this way as he shared Sea Shepherd's passion for saving
"Whales have always been in Steve's heart and in 2006 he was investigating
the possibility of joining the Sea Shepherd on part of its journey to
defend these beautiful animals," Terri said.
of Sea Shepherd's Antarctic whale campaigns is to intervene against
illegal whaling actions by the Japanese whaling fleet. The 2007-2008
Operation Migaloo campaign was very successful and the whalers only got
about ½ their quota, due to the Steve Irwin's intervention. The
Steve Irwin is currently in Australia under going preparations for
the next Antarctic Whale Defense Campaign.
life demonstrated how one person can make a significant difference in the
world," said Watson. "Steve wanted to come to Antarctica with us to defend
the whales and now he is able to join us in spirit with his name
emblazoned on the fastest and most powerful whale protection ship in the
formerly known as the M/Y Robert Hunter was originally named
after Canadian Robert Hunter, who along with President and Founder of Sea
Shepherd Captain Paul Watson was a co-founder of the Greenpeace
Foundation. Bob Hunter died in May 2005, and at his funeral, Captain
Watson pledged to name an ocean conversation ship in his honor. That dream
came to pass with the purchase of the M/Y Robert Hunter, a
53-meter, former Scottish Fisheries Protection Service vessel.
her father's activist genes, Robert Hunter's daughter Emily Hunter joined
the ship's crew for Operation Leviathan; Sea Shepherd's 2006-7 campaign to
stop the Japanese whaling fleets' illegal slaughter of over a thousand
whales in Antarctica. The Robert Hunter has the long-range
capability and fast speed needed to locate and keep up with the whalers.
The new ship joined the Society's flagship Farley Mowat in the
Ross Sea of Antarctica with over 60 international volunteer crewmembers, a
helicopter, and numerous smaller vessels.
"Bob and I
were in the very first inflatable that blocked the harpoons of the whalers
in 1975," said Captain Watson. "He was my shipmate from 1971 onward with
Greenpeace and later joined me on many Sea Shepherd campaigns. With this
ship, he was by my side once again in spirit continuing to defend whales.
"I have been
honored to serve the whales, dolphins, seals - and all the other creatures on
this Earth. Their beauty, intelligence, strength, and spirit have inspired me.
These beings have spoken to me, touched me, and I have been rewarded by
friendship with many members of different species.
If the whales
survive and flourish, if the seals continue to live and give birth, and if I can
contribute to ensuring their future prosperity, I will be forever happy."
- Paul Watson
Founder of Sea Shepherd
Co-Founding Director Greenpeace Foundation
Watson was born in Toronto, Canada, on December 2, 1950. At six years old, he
and his family moved to the lobster fishing town of St. Andrews-by-the-Sea in
New Brunswick. The eldest of seven children, Watson lived there until January
1964 when his mother died and his father returned the family to Toronto.
His father was Anthony Joseph Watson, a French-Canadian born in New Brunswick,
Canada. His mother was Annamarie Larsen, the daughter of a Danish artist Otto
Larsen and Canadian Doris Phoebe Clark.
In 1960, Watson was a member of
the Kindness Club, founded by Aida Flemming in New Brunswick. After trappers
killed one of his beaver friends, Watson set out, (at the age of nine), to
confiscate and destroy leg-hold traps. He was also known to disrupt deer and
duck hunters, and to prevent other boys from shooting birds.
1967, Watson left home to work at Expo 67 in Montreal and then rode the rails to
Vancouver where he worked on the Canadian Pacific Steamship Princess
Marguerite as a fireman. In 1968, Watson joined the Canadian Coast Guard.
His first ship was the weathership C.C.G.S. Vancouver. In 1969, Watson
joined the crew of the Norwegian bulk carrier Bris on a voyage to Asia
and Africa. Early voyages with the Canadian, Norwegian, Swedish, and British
merchant marine provided him with experience on all the world's oceans,
including weathering typhoons in the South China Sea, North Atlantic storms in
the iceberg-strewn northern latitudes of the Atlantic and navigating the war
zones of the Persian Gulf. He served in the Canadian Coast Guard for two years
in the early seventies on weatherships, buoy tenders and on a search and rescue
Watson was one of the co-founders
of the Greenpeace Foundation. In October 1969, his involvement began when he
helped organize a voyage on the U.S. and Canadian border to protest against the
nuclear testing at Amchitka Island by the Atomic Energy Commission.
A few of the participants from
the protest organized a small group to work on more ideas to oppose the testing
at Amchitka. The group was called the Don't Make a Wave Committee and was
composed primarily of members from the Sierra Club and the Society of Friends
(Quakers). Watson, a Sierra Club member, was primarily motivated to protest
the Amchitka testing because of his concern for marine wildlife at the site.
October 1971, the Don't Make a Wave Committee sponsored the voyage of the
Greenpeace I. The Greenpeace I was an 85' Canadian fishing boat
formerly known as the Phyllis Cormack. The ship set forth from
Vancouver, British Columbia, bound for Amchitka Island, (under the command of
Captain John Cormack), with the intention of sailing into the test site. There
were thirteen volunteers on board including Robert Hunter, Rod Marining, and
Lyle Thurston. Three decades later, these three would still be sailing with
Captain Watson on Sea Shepherd campaigns.
The test was delayed and the
Greenpeace I, after a month at sea, headed back to Vancouver.
In the meantime, a second ship
was organized. This was the converted Canadian minesweeper the Edgewater
Fortune. She was named the Greenpeace Too. One of her crew was
Watson. The Greenpeace Too passed the Greenpeace I near
Campbell River and carried on north to Alaska - first to Juneau, and then
outward bound across the Gulf of Alaska to the Aleutians.
The nuclear test had been delayed
to foil the voyage of the Greenpeace I, however, the U.S. Atomic Energy
Committee advanced the next blast date to avoid the Greenpeace Too. The
five-megaton explosion was detonated under Amchitka Island when the
Greenpeace Too was still a few hundred miles away.
The controversy the Greenpeace
voyages generated led to the decision to cancel further tests, and the
detonation of November 1971 was the last nuclear test to take place at Amchitka.
In 1972, the Don't Make a Wave
Committee took the name of the two ships from the first campaign and renamed
themselves the Greenpeace Foundation.
Watson was one of the founding
members and directors of Greenpeace. In fact, he was officially the eighth
founding member. Robert Hunter was the first and his lifetime membership number
was 000. His wife Roberta Hunter was second and her membership number was 001.
Watson's official membership number was and continues to be 007.
In 1972, Watson skippered the
tiny Greenpeace boat Astral, and placed it on a collision course with
the French helicopter carrier, the Jeanne D'Arc, in Vancouver harbor.
This was a protest against French nuclear testing at Mururoa Atoll in the South
Pacific. The Jeanne D'Arc was forced to change course. The Astral
changed course and kept on target - bow to bow with the warship, forcing the
Jeanne D'Arc to stop.
1973, Watson and David Garrick represented Greenpeace during the occupation of
Wounded Knee, South Dakota by the American Indian Movement. Both men served as
volunteers for AIM, with Watson working with the medics and filing stories back
to Robert Hunter at the Vancouver Sun.
In 1974, Watson, Robert Hunter,
Dr. Paul Spong,, and others organized the first campaign by Greenpeace to oppose
In 1975, Watson served as First
officer under Captain John Cormack on the voyage to confront the Soviet Whaling
fleet. In June 1975, Robert Hunter and Watson were the first people to put their
lives on the line to protect whales when Watson placed his inflatable Zodiac
between a Russian harpoon vessel and a pod of defenseless sperm whales. During
this confrontation with the Russian whaler, a harpooned and dying sperm whale
loomed over Watson's small boat. Watson recognized a flicker of understanding in
the dying whale's eye. He felt that the whale knew what they were trying to do.
He watched as the magnificent leviathan heaved its body away from his boat,
slipped beneath the waves and died. A few seconds of looking into this dying
whale's eye changed his life forever. He vowed to become a lifelong defender of
the whales and all creatures of the seas.
In 1976, Watson served again as
First Officer on the voyage of the Greenpeace V. This was the converted
Canadian minesweeper James Bay. Once again, the crew confronted the
Soviet whaling fleet, this time north of Hawaii.
after the whaling campaign, Watson and David Garrick organized and led the first
Greenpeace campaign to protect harp and hood seals on the East Coast of Canada.
During this campaign, Robert Hunter and Watson stopped a large sealing ship, the
Arctic Endeavor, in the ice by standing on the ice in its path.
Watson's account of the campaign
was published in the Georgia Straight newspaper and entitled Shepherds of
the Labrador Front. It is this article that inspired the name
a few years later.
In 1977, Watson led the second
Greenpeace campaign to oppose the seal hunt off the coast of Labrador, this time
bringing international movie star Brigitte Bardot to the ice floes to focus
international attention on the seal slaughter.
Later on this campaign, in an
effort to bring one of the sealing ship's operations to a halt, Watson
handcuffed himself to a pile of seal pelts that were attached to the winch of a
sealing vessel. When the sealers saw what he had done, they dragged him and the
pile of pelts across the ice then up into the air, slamming them against the
hull of the ship. Then they plunged Watson into the frigid waters several times
causing him to lose feeling in his limbs and lose consciousness. Finally, when
Fisheries Minister officers arrived on the scene, he was strapped to a stretcher
and hoisted onboard, where the sealers almost suffocated him by pressing seal
blubber over his face, then dragging him across the deck through seal fat and
blood, kicking him all along the way.
In June 1977, Watson left
the Greenpeace Foundation because of disagreements on tactics and with the
emerging bureaucratic structure of the organization. Patrick Moore had replaced
Robert Hunter and was opposed to direct action campaigns. Moore had informed
Watson that he would not be allowed to lead another seal campaign.
Watson left Greenpeace because he
felt the original goals of the organization were being compromised, and because
he saw a global need to continue direct action conservation activities on the
high seas by an organization that would enforce laws protecting marine wildlife.
To answer that need, that same
year, Watson founded Sea Shepherd Conservation Society - dedicated to research,
investigation, and enforcement of laws, treaties, resolutions and regulations
established to protect marine wildlife worldwide. In December 1978, with the
assistance of Cleveland Amory and the Fund for Animals, Watson purchased a North
Atlantic trawler in Britain and converted her into the conservation enforcement
vessel Sea Shepherd.
The first voyage of the Sea
Shepherd was in March of 1979 - destination was the Gulf of St. Lawrence on
the Eastern coast of Canada to publicize the Canadian seal hunt by utilizing
direct action tactics to save seal pups. Much of the rest of that year was
dedicated to the ending the career of the notorious whaling vessel Sierra.
Pictured above are the only two crewmembers who chose
to stay onboard the Sea Shepherd with Paul -
Peter Woof (left) and Jerry Doran.
Over the years, Watson has
exhibited a remarkable diversity in his activism. Aside from being a co-founder
of Greenpeace in 1972, Greenpeace International in 1979, and founder of Sea
Shepherd in 1977, Watson was a Field Correspondent for Defenders of Wildlife
between 1976 and 1980. He was a field representative for the Fund for Animals
between 1978 and 1981, and a representative for the Royal Society for the
Protection of Animals in 1979. He co-founded Earthforce Environmental Society in
1977 and Friends of the Wolf in 1984. Watson's first affiliation with the Sierra
Club was in 1968 and he has remained a Sierra Club supporter ever since. Watson
was elected to the National Board of the Sierra Club USA serving as a director
Education and Public
Watson majored in communications
and linguistics at Simon Fraser University in British Columbia. He has lectured
extensively at universities around the world, and was a professor of Ecology at
Pasadena College of Design from 1990 through to 1994. Watson also was an
instructor in UCLA's Honors Program for 1998 and 1999. Currently, Watson is a
registered speaker with the Jodi Solomon Speakers Bureau of Boston, and
regularly gives presentations at colleges and universities in the United States,
and at special events throughout world.
On the political front, Watson
has run for Member of Parliament for Vancouver Centre in the Canadian Federal
elections. He ran twice for the Green Party. He also ran on the Green Party
ticket for Vancouver Parks Board in 1987 and for Mayor of Vancouver in 1995.
Awards and Commendations
Watson has received many awards
and commendations over the years. In 1996, Watson was awarded an honorary
citizenship to the French town of St. Jean Cap Ferrat. Previous to that he was
made an honorary citizen of the Florida Keys in 1989. Other awards include
Toronto City TV's Environmentalist of the Year Award for 1990, the Genesis Award
in 1998, and he was enrolled in the U.S. Animal Rights Hall of Fame in 2002. He
was also awarded the George H.W. Bush Daily Points of Light Award in 1999 for
his volunteer efforts with conservation activism. He was chosen by Time Magazine
as one of the environmental heroes of the 20th Century in the year 2000.
Watson is a prolific writer and
author. His published titles include: Shepherds of the Sea*
(1979), Sea Shepherd: My Fight for Whales and Seals* (1982), Cry
Wolf* (1985), Earthforce!, (1993), Ocean Warrior (1994), and Seal
Watson has served as Master and
Commander on seven different Sea Shepherd ships since 1978. He currently
commands the flagship Steve Irwin. He continues to lead Sea Shepherd
campaigns to protect defenseless marine wildlife around the world -
Data compiled from The
British Antarctic Study, NASA, Environment Canada, UNEP, EPA and
other sources as stated and credited Researched by Charles
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