The Search for the Killers Has Begun

Commentary by Captain Paul Watson
Founder and President of Sea Shepherd Conservation Society

It has been just over 10 days since our ship the Steve Irwin departed from Melbourne. Six of those days were taken up by the transit across the Roaring Forties, the Furious Fifties and into the Screaming Sixties. For the last four days we have been on the move, searching a vast area of remote frozen sea, in search of a fleet of merciless killers - the Japanese whalers.

The whalers are down here having arrived in the last few days, down here somewhere off a coastline that carries on for thousands of kilometers. Our most difficult challenges every year in this campaign to defend the whales is finding their elusive killers. They cowardly creep and sneak through the fog and snow in the midst of this great white silence like the evil creatures they are, intent on extinguishing the lives of some of the most intelligent and gentle creatures on this fair planet.

As hostile as this part of the Earth is, I have fallen in love with the Great Southern Ocean and this lonely continent at the bottom of the globe. Its sheer size and icy ruggedness humbles me. Each day we pass through seas of bergy bit, growlers, floe ice and massive bergs, all pushed about by fierce winds over a black frigid sea under a sun that never sets.

Our ship is like a spaceship. Off the ship and death from exposure is not far away. This small steel hulled vessel is our lifeline and it is so small set against the mountains of ice and the cold black rock of the coastline.

There are forty-one of us on board, each with a task to keep the ship and the campaign running. Unlike the whalers, my crew are not here because of pay or benefits. They are here as volunteers because they care about the survival and the welfare of the world's whales and because they want to do more than petition and demonstrate. They want to physically make a difference. They want to stop the illegal slaughter of the whales.

This is my fourth campaign to the Southern Ocean Whale Sanctuary. This will be the fourth year that I've ushered in a new year in these enchanted hostile waters amongst the whales, the penguins, the albatross and the seals.

Somewhere out there in this vast ocean the killers are arming their deadly harpoon cannons and the grisly decks of their foul smelling ships are flowing with hot blood that sends clouds of steam into the chilled air. The bodies of our friends the whales are being systematically mutilated as the obscene flensing knives hack off tails and fins and spill the entrails of these magnificent beings onto their greasy decks.

The Japanese whalers have no idea just how repulsive their actions are to us onboard the Steve Irwin.

The world would not tolerate the chasing down of elephants with spears and guns to be frozen into steaks and sent to Japan, yet for some reason, governments are failing to act to stop the continuance of the most barbaric industry on the planet.

These fast steel hulled killing machines hunt down the whales without mercy firing grenade tipped harpoons into their bodies that explode and shred internal organs sending bolts of agonizing pain through the whales and forcing them to release adrenalin that gives them the strength to try and escape as another harpoon slams into their backside and sometimes even a third, and still it may take more than thirty minutes to die as the whale strains against the pull of the cable and the winches and screams painfully into the unforgiving cold sea and air, heard only by men with hearts so black that they do not grimace nor care, men without compassion, without empathy and without conscience.

Yet these same men call us who seek to protect life "eco-terrorists" and have the audacity to accuse us of violence as they fill the cold sea with the hot blood of the whales. It is a black comedy of absurdities and it speaks of the alienation that allows for the dispassionate slaughter of magnificent beings by petty hominid apes whose reality revolves around material self gratification.

And the greatest absurdity of all is that in a world of seven billion human beings, there are only the 41 of us down here trying to protect these whales and only a few thousand supporters on land helping to back up our efforts. Most of the governments, whose responsibility it is to uphold international conservation law are silent and the few that do speak out do not back their opposition with action. It's all posturing and pseudo-sincerity and after twenty years of failed diplomacy, Japan has done nothing but escalate their kill numbers every year.

And somewhere before our bow these whale killing monsters are going about their foul and bloody work and we must find them. For every day we search and fail to find their outlaw ships, whales are dying in horrific agony in pools of their own blood at the hands of cowardly functionaries sent by one of the most powerful and wealthy countries on Earth to torture and slaughter the most innocent of creatures.

Oh pardon me, bleeding whales that we are so gentle and mild with your loathsome butchers. We are constrained by our own morality - our respect for life, and this prevents us from doing what could be done to effectively silence the harpoons, if we were as vile and ruthless as your savage killers.

But we are non-violent enforcers condemned as violent pirates by those that commit the most blatant acts of bloody violence on Earth, who call us names more properly suited for themselves but whose financial control of media and government buys for them the facade of the "victim" as they whine about interference with their ecologically destructive activities.

These killers whine that it is racist to oppose their violence when race has absolutely nothing to do with our opposition to the killing of whales. We fight the Norwegians with the same passion, and the Icelanders. We don't discriminate when we oppose those who slaughter the whales and we care not for the colour of the hand that fires the harpoon gun but we do oppose the hand.

And there is only one way of countering this purchased pretense of "innocent whalers as victim" and that is to ignore their bleating and to always remember that we are down here in these remote waters for the whales and not for people. The whales are our clients and it is for them that we risk our lives in these hostile waters against a savage and ruthless enemy.

For them, for the whales!