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Somewhere Over the Rainbow, Bluefin Swim Free!

Operation Blue Rage: Day Eleven of the Mediterranean Patrol

Friday, June 18th, 2010
Location: Off the Coast of Libya

Report by Captain Paul Watson, Steve Irwin

Steve Irwin and Arctic Sunrise The dawn, hazy with the fine blown sand of the Sahara desert, found us without any pursuing tail from the Libyan and Maltese Navies, and so we continued our patrol.

We encountered the Greenpeace ship Arctic Sunrise heading Southwest towards the coordinates of the cage we liberated yesterday. We changed course to intercept them with the intention of communicating with them, but they turned around and fled from us at full speed. We followed and we were able to catch up with them around 1630 Hours.

It was actually quite nice to have the two ships together and as we closed in on them a pod of dolphins appeared and began riding the bow waves of both the Sea Shepherd ship Steve Irwin and the Greenpeace ship Arctic Sunrise. My fellow Greenpeace co-founder, the late Bob Hunter, would have surely taken that as a sign for us to work together.

The Arctic Sunrise radioed us and asked what our intentions were and we said we were simply doing a photo-op, and by the way how about joining us to come save the fish.

Arctic Sunrise, this is the Steve Irwin. We’ve located a cage with about 800 illegal fish in it and this will be a wonderful opportunity for our two organizations to work together,” said Steve Irwin First Officer Locky MacLean.

After a moment’s hesitation, the captain of the Arctic Sunrise Joel Stewart radioed back and simply said, “That’s a negative.”

“Ok,” said Locky, “Arctic Sunrise, thanks for the photo-op, have a great day. We’re off to save some fish.”

It was evident that the Arctic Sunrise did not want an aerial shot of our two ships together side-by-side so they began to go in circles to prevent it. However, the superior speed of the Steve Irwin allowed us to get the picture and then we broke off.

I’m actually quite happy to see the Greenpeace ships in the Mediterranean. They had not been here for the last couple of years but when they heard Sea Shepherd was coming to defend the bluefin, they mobilized the Arctic Sunrise and the Rainbow Warrior. They made a couple of failed attempts to free some fish, they lost two of their expensive inflatable boats, and they had one of their crew seriously injured, so there is no doubt they are making a serious effort to bring attention to this threat facing the survival of the bluefin.

We wish they would consider returning to the Southern Ocean to defend the whales with us also, but many things have changed for Greenpeace over the years and that inspirational fire that once motivated my colleagues and I when we formed Greenpeace four decades ago has cooled considerably.

But I have to say that when I looked over at the Arctic Sunrise with the dolphins swimming before both our bows, I felt a twinge of pride as a founding father of Greenpeace. I know that Robert Hunter would have loved to have seen this and I know what he would have said if he did. “See Paul, the dolphins have recognized both ships and the fact that not a single dolphin has been seen in a week and suddenly when the two ships come together, they appear before both our bows, well, those delightful armless Buddha’s are wiser than we are and we never seem to listen.”

And so it was that we headed south back towards Libyan waters, leaving the Arctic Sunrise in our wake. It really is too bad. Together Greenpeace and Sea Shepherd could rock the oceans; together we could be a stronger force to be reckoned with.

As we headed southward, I connected my iPod and played “Somewhere Over the Rainbow” as a tribute to Robert Hunter, and all my old Greenpeace shipmates and marveled at all that we had accomplished since that day when Bob and I blocked that Soviet harpoon with our bodies in June 1975 in the cold waters of the North Pacific. Since then, so much has happened, both positive and negative, but most importantly, some of us have never lost that dream that each of us have within, and that is the power to change the world. All we need to do is dare to make a difference, and to understand that sometimes it takes doing the impossible to achieve the possible.

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