Captain Nemo from Jules Verne’s classic 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea and Mocha Dick, the great sperm whale that inspired the novel Moby Dick have always been my heroes.
My name is Paul Watson, the founder and president of the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society. I am also the captain of the Sea Shepherd ship Steve Irwin.
I was a co-founder of Greenpeace, but I left it because I detest protesting. It is submissive and I felt a need to intervene against the illegal exploitation of wildlife.
One summer when I was ten I swam with the beavers in a pond near my home. That winter, trappers took all the beavers. I became angry and the following winter I walked the trap lines, destroyed them and freed the animals.
But I would never injure anyone. In 33 years of campaigns, 11 illegal whalers have been sunk without any injuries to any crew.
Ecopirates, ecoterrorists... They can call us anything they like, it does not bother me.
The whale could have taken my life, but it didn't.
In 1975 I was first officer on the Greenpeace voyage to defend some whales from the Soviet whaling fleet. The Russians fired a harpoon over my head and struck a female whale in a pod of Sperm whales. The large male smacked the water with his tail and dove, turned and attacked the whaling ship. But they were ready for him and at point blank range an unattached explosive harpoon struck the whale in the head. He screamed and fell back into the sea, rolling in agony in his own blood.
As he struggled to live, I caught his eye and he dove straight towards me. I saw a trail of bloody bubbles rapidly approaching and then he rose out of the water right beside me.
As his massive head towered above me and his teeth were so close I could touch them, I looked into that large eye, an eye the size of my fist… Then his head began to fall back into the sea and his eye disappeared beneath the waves. He died.
Ever since I have felt indebted to him and worked to defend the lives of his kind.
A person without regrets is a person who has not lived a life of diversity of interests and cause.
There are many things that I regret not having done but I do not regret those things that I have experienced and accomplished.
Once I attended a dinner meeting of Ocean Conservation International. It was a little strange to be served a smorgasbord of seafood. Most people just don’t see the contradictions or if they do they choose to ignore them.
If the oceans die, we die.
We operate in accordance with the principles of the U.N. World Charter for Nature that allows for non-governmental organizations to uphold international conservation law.
This is the International Year of Biodiversity and humanity needs to understand that we are intimately connected to our oceans.
It’s impossible to say which species is most endangered, but we should be most concerned about our own species. If we diminish biodiversity we seriously undermine our capacity to survive.
Thus we should not ask for which species the bell tolls, for the bell is tolling for us.