My Battle to End the Illegal Slaughter on the High
Founder, Sea Shepherd Conservation Society
Paul Watson is by
far the most knowledgeable, dedicated
alive today, and
Ocean Warrior is
his continuing odyssey.”
Captain Paul Watson
are many people who say that what we do is futile, that
there is no way to stop the rising tide of human-spawned
destruction. There are many who condemn my crew and me
for taking the law into our own hands and for taking on
the barons of corporate profit. There are some who would
like to see us jailed, or even dead, so blinded are they
to the conceit and folly of their own anthropocentrism.
I don't care. I do what I do because it is the right
thing to do. I have never worried about winning or losing.
I am a warrior and it is the way of the warrior to fight
against superior odds even when victory is no more than a dream. I have no illusions.
I know that the rate of extinction on this Earth increases daily. This knowledge
makes me angry. As a warrior, I cherish my anger, because it is anger that gives
me courage and strengthens my resolve. The specter of extinction, the prospect
of diminishment, the certainty of a biological holocaust make me strong.
And yet there is hope. Perhaps, just perhaps, our efforts
will buy a little time and a little space. My friend Edward Abbey once said, "Life
is cruel, but compared to what?" He was right. Life is what we must cling
to; there is no alternative.
Happily, my small hope that life will triumph is not
merely theoretical or imaginary. When I looked into the eye of a whale, I could
no longer be bothered with the trivialization of a self-absorbed humanity. I
have seen the black, teary eyes of harp seals and the tortured red eyes of an
oil-covered cormorant who stood dying in a pool of black filth. What I saw there
has given me the strength to overcome my own anthropocentrism. I have refused
to side with humanity in her war against the Earth.
I fully expect to be killed one day
by one of my own species. A whaler, sealer, shark poacher or
member of the crew on a driftnetter or drag trawler will kill
me. Or it may be a government agent acting as the hired thug
of a corporation. But the only thing that matters to me is
that I use my life to save lives, protect species and conserve
habitat. By doing so, I know I can make a difference, and perhaps
inspire others who will also make a difference.
I am not competing in a popularity
contest. On the contrary: it is my function as an ecological
activist to say things that people don't want to hear and to
do things that people don't want to see done. I am trying to
be what I wish my ancestors had been. I wish there had been
someone around to defend the great auk, the Labrador duck and
the Biscayan right whale — all long gone. I am here to
defend the species that might otherwise go the way they have
gone, for the sake of my children and my children's children.
My work may amount to no more than
a ripple on the ocean's surface. But there have been others
who have made ripples before me. Rachel Carson and John Muir,
Jules Verne and Farley Mowat, Dian Fossey and Richard Leakey
have all disturbed the waters in their time. My own ripple
will join theirs, and together they will become wavelets and
waves, and eventually, perhaps, thundering surf crashing upon
the rocks of human ignorance and selfishness.
My belief that the ripples will grow
and multiply gives me confidence. That, and the simple satisfaction
that comes from seizing driftnets, sinking whalers, ramming
mechanized fish factories and destroying other weapons that
have been used in the assault on nature. The thrill of saving
lives, of knowing that a whale will sire, a seal pup thrive,
and a species survive for another few years, gives me a reason
to go on.
Above all, in spite of everything that
has been said or done to me since July 16, 1979, the day I
rammed the Sierra, I have been a happy man.
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