Saturday, January 9, 2010

Episode 14 Sea Shepherd

Episode 14 Sea Shepherd

Hello and welcome to episode 14 of Coexisting With Nonhuman Animals. This episode I'll talk about Sea Shepherd.

I've been interested in Sea Shepherd for a long time, but have put off doing an episode about them until now. What's made Sea Shepherd especially interesting for me, has been the Ady Gil, a boat formally known as "Earth Race". Earth Race was built to break the world record in crossing the world in a powered boat. Earth Race could run on diesel or biodiesel, and had a aggressive design, built to piece through waves rather than going over top. Earth Race set a new world record for powered boats, fully circling the world in just 60 days, 23 hours and 49 minutes, I could have just round that up to "under 61 days".

What makes this very special, is that a New Zealander was in charge. In New Zealand, we have a saying "world famous in New Zealand". It means that we've done something spectacular, that deserves worldwide recognition, yet its not well known outside of New Zealand. Many New Zealanders have came up with well known inventions, although we dont receive much credit. As a New Zealander, I felt proud that Earth Race was a very innovative, New Zealand boat.

Part of me was quite excited to hear that Earth Race would be joining Sea Shepherd, the boat was bought by Sea Shepherd, and renamed "Ady Gil" after a donor.

Here is an interview, with Earth Race skipper Pete Bethune, hes quite a character, you'll notice how "laid back" New Zealand blokes are.

and heres a longer interview, with Radio New Zealand,

So, I loved a lot of things about Earth Race, which was renamed Ady Gil once bought by Sea Shepherd. But, I do have to wonder why the boat was going to join them as they protested, and clashed, with a Japanese whaling fleet. Ady Gil was no doubt very fast, the other Sea Shepherd boats have had trouble keeping up with the whalers boats in the past, but its also very small and well known, if it were damaged, it would no doubt be very expensive to fix and demoralizing. Owner and Founder of Sea Shepherd, Paul Watson had said that the Ady Gil would be used to block whalers harpoons. That the Ady Gil would be put between the whales and the Whalers. As we now know, the boat got too close to a Whaling ship, and there was a collision. Both sides have released videos of what happened, but I still am not clear. The Japanese Whalers video was what I saw first. This video was taken from the Shonan Maru 2, the ship that hit the Ady Gil. In this video, a it sounds like a siren is going off, and the Japanese ship is spraying water at the Ady Gil. I hate when they do this, spraying water at each other with high pressure water cannons. The Japanese have said they use these to keep Sea Shepherd from trying to board their ships. But it looks downright irresponsible to spray a smaller boat with these massive jets of water, especially when its close to you, as in the video.

The whaling ship hits the Ady Gil, and about a large split appears along the side, and at the very front point of the hull. It seems things are floating out of the bow.

Now, in a Sea Shepherd video, from another Sea Shepherd ship, taken from a distance, it looks like the Japanese ship swerves at the Ady Gil which is stationary. The Japanese boat then seems to pull away just before it hits. This makes it look like the Japanese deliberately were trying to hit the Ady Gil.

This is 3 News initial report about the collision.

<3 news first sinking clip>

The Japanese say that the Ady Gil had been harassing their ships prior to the collision. They say that the collision was accidental, that they were turning, and tried to get out of the way, but that the Ady Gil accelerated in front of their ship.

Sea Shepherd say the Japanese deliberately hit the Ady Gil while it were stationary. The skipper of the boat, Pete Bethune, has said that he saw the Japanese boat and was trying to reverse, but didnt have time.

Here is a second clip, after the boat had sunk

I absolutely dont agree with the whalers, who are there to kill whales, but I also find myself at odds with Sea Shepherd. A lot of Sea Shepherds history and tactics are controversial. They pull what I call "pranks" or "stunts", what they might call "direct action", they do things to annoy the whalers. They like to throw foul smelling liquids at the whaling boats, they like to shine lasers at the whalers, they like to ram whaling ships. They've tried dropping cables in the water in front of whaling ships, to tangle the propellers of the whaling vessel.

I dont think these are mature or responsible things to be doing as an Animal Rights activist. I think Antartica is a seriously dangerous place as it is, without two groups having skirmishes, by ramming each others ships, trying to blind each other with lasers, and trying to deafen each other with loud sounds. Its just plain dangerous, and I dont see how these actions help the whales. If anything, if the whales can hear all this, I assume it would only hurt them.

I would support Sea Shepherd if they went down to protest the whalers, by having their ships nearby, with banners, and monitoring what the Whalers do. I dont support when they do outright dangerous and unhelpful actions towards the whalers. Whales are meant to be protected, many species are endangered. The Japanese whalers are getting around this by saying its being done as research. I dont believe that for a second. But, the Japanese whalers are still people, they are animals too, and I dont think Sea Shepherd have the right to threaten their lives.

I've learnt that Sea Shepherd run a vegan ship, I'm very impressed with this, although it really should be the moral baseline of all Animal Rights activists. Heres a clip featuring Paul Watson, leader of Sea Shepherd.

I'm glad that Sea Shepherd are consistent with not hurting any animals, although its 2010, surely all so called animal rights groups should be expected to be Vegan by now.

My dear friend Elizabeth Collins, of NZ Vegan podcast, has an opinion about Sea Shepherd

You can find Elizabeth at, I support all that she does, especially her tabling. Elizabeth often goes out with William Paul, another New Zealand Vegan, and they spread creative Vegan education to interested people in public spaces. I would love to do the same here, although I live in a smaller, more rural area, and I really dont think I would find a receptive audience. I tell myself, I have to try one day though, I really wish I could join Elizabeth in her work. Although we are seperated by a thousand kilometres, perhaps its for the best, since we can both campaign in the areas where we live, we have a greater reach that if we all lived in one city.\

Once again, you can find Elizabeth at Thank you for helping me today Elizabeth.

I have no problem if Sea Shepherd go out to sea and stay near the whalers with protest banners, but I dont think their "direct action" techniques work. Throwing stink bombs, shining lasers at people, ramming whaling ships, these do not help animals. I'd argue they only make animal rights people look insane, these actions make us easier to write off as a bunch of "radical greenies". I have a green laser pointer, its a very cool thing, to shine at the stars at night. Green lasers are easier to see, since our eyes can see green very well. You can see the full beam in the air, not just a dot at the end, so it looks sort of like an infinite light sabre. This makes it useful for pointing at long distances, to stars for example. You obviously dont see a dot on the star, but instead you see what looks like a neon green pole, pointing at whatever you'd like to show.

I dont think you should be shining lasers at anyone, its outright dangerous in itself, they COULD cause eye damage, they DO "temporarily blind", what if a blinded whaler fell overboard? Or were injured by one of their machines? I hate what the whalers are doing, but we shouldnt be risking their lives. This isnt an action movie from the 1980's, we shouldnt be cheering as "the bad guy" falls into his own meat grinding machine. Whalers are people too, I dont want to see them killed anymore than I want the butcher around the corner killed, or my father, who worked for about ten years at an abattoir.

My parents would never let me shine my lasers at people, especially if I were trying to blind them. I dont think anyone should be doing things like that, its like running with scissors.

A New Yorker article mentions "In “Earthforce!,” Watson advises readers to make up facts and figures when they need to, and to deliver them to reporters confidently, “as Ronald Reagan did.” Watson possesses Reagan’s intuitive grasp of the media, and, like Reagan, at times he seems astray in the labyrinth of his own illusions.
Several years after ramming the Sierra, Watson gave himself the title of captain, though he does not have a captain’s license."

Read more:

I havnt read Watsons book, I dont know if he really said its fine to make up lies. The New Yorker has a long history, its kind of well known in America. I've linked to the story so you can read it for yourself.

I wont support anyone who makes up claims for the media. If I support someone, and it turns out that some of their statements are wrong, then it makes me look bad, it makes all animal rights activists look bad.

Sea Shepherd are proud to show off a tally of the whaling ships they have sunk. You can see photos of the tally, painted on one of their ships, on Wikipedia and other places online. I've heard that these TEN whaling ships were sunk when they were empty, but I still think its risky and wrong to destroy the whalers ships. I'd like to mention the Rainbow Warrior, no its not a float from a gay parade, the Rainbow Warrior was a Greenpeace boat that was sunk in New Zealand. The boat had been protesting French Nuclear weapon tests, and was sunk by French agents, the DGSE. Initially, France denied involvement and joined in condemning it as a terrorist act. Later however, it was found that the French intelligence group were accountable, they had placed one mine on the boat, to make a small explosion, and then a second that would sink the ship. The first was supposed to cause the boat to be abandoned, but some of the crew returned to he boat, including , forgive my pronunciation, Fernando Pereira, a photographer who drowned following the second explosion.

The DGSE didnt mean to kill anyone as they sunk the Greenpeace boat, but they did. Sea Shepherd say they have never harmed another person, I guess they dont count stinkbombs, boat rammings and lasers, but what if they did kill someone? I think its irresponsible to go about sinking 10 whaling boats, and especially to be so proud of it. AND, if at a later date, one of your own boats gets sunk, no matter how beautiful or special the boat, I dont think you can then complain. You sunk 10 of whaling boats, and now they sink one of yours? 10 to 1, I think both sides have been irresponsible.

Whats more, these PETA esque pranks make it easier to write off our message. Especially if it looks like "those greenies care so much about the bunny rabbits and the dolphins but dont care about people". This is often made fun of in popular culture, such as Southpark. Southpark have covered PETA before, as a bunch of radicals who protest the use of a cow as a school mascot. The PETA folk live in a commune, and marry animals, when the animals are threatened by gunfire, the PETA members throw themselves in front of their animal partners, and die in gruesome detail. The animals are shown not to care,they just walk away.

Sea Shepherd themselves have been parodied on SouthPark. The parody is about Whale Wars, a TV show about Sea Shepherd. On Whale Wars, Paul Watson claims to have been shot by Japanese whalers, that while being filmed for Whale Wars, he was shot while Sea Shepherd were throwing glass bottles of bad smelling substances at the whalers. A vest is meant to have stopped the bullet, later a metal fragment was found. I'll read from a BBC article about the incident.

"Mr Watson told Australian radio that he found a bullet in his Kevlar vest.
"It bruised my shoulder but it would have hit my heart if I didn't have the vest," he said.

He told Australia's ABC News that there was no justification for the whalers opening fire.
"We were doing what we usually do, which is putting stink bombs on deck," he said."

So, while acting immature, throwing "stink bombs" at the whalers, he claims to have been shot. The whalers deny this. Often violent language is used by Sea Shepherd, Watson said the bullet would have hit his heart for example. Many are now saying that Watson made the whole incident up. This would go with the claims mentioned to be in his book by the New Yorker, about making evidence up. I dont know if he really was shot or not, but I find it hard to believe a person who has apparently said that its fine for animal rights activists to make up evidence supporting their beliefs, who is also a grown man who goes about ramming ships, throwing stink bombs, and shining lasers in peoples eyes.

Southpark also make fun of the stink bombs.
I'll play the clip

To wrap up, I absolutely disagree with the Whalers. Although I believe whales are no more special than cows or chickens, there are laws about not killing whales, and the Whalers are getting around these. I also disagree with Sea Shepherd, I think that through their immature stunts, they make all animal rights activists look immature. Really, it seems we have a stereotype of throwing blood at people who wear fur coats, getting almost naked women to live in cages, as using PR stunts to further our evil agenda.

I think we would do much better by focusing on creative, and NONVIOLENT Vegan education. I support people who would protest the whalers with banners and protest, but not when these people perform irresponsible stunts on peoples lives, especially in the middle of nowhere at sea. I dont see how throwing stink bombs, shining lasers and ramming ships helps animals. I see it as only harming our image, which helps people who promote Veganism be written off as radicals.

As a New Zealander, I loved Earth Race, I'll always regret not seeing it when I had the chance. I truly believe it belonged in a Museum, or to be used for PR at well known boat races. New Zealand has made a lot of breakthroughs when it comes to transport and exploration. Sir Edmund Hillary was the first, along with his sherpa friend Tensing Norgay, to reach the peak of Mount Everest. A New Zealander, Bill Hamilton, invented the jet boat engine, used on jetboats and jetskis. In 1960, a Hamilton Jet became the first boat to travel through the Grand Canyon in America. We've come out of nowhere to win Americas Cup yacht races. Some claim that Richard Pearse, who I covered on the first episode of the late Jay Wont dart's podcast, to have flown before the Wright Brothers. Burt Munro, from Invercargill, where I live, had the fastest motorcycle in its class. The recent movie about him is well know, The Worlds Fastest Indian. I've always wished they would say "The Worlds Fastest Native American". The DVD starts off with some lame promotion for Southland, the region of New Zealand where I live, and some people I know had large roles in the movie, people I went to school with, and our Mayor, Tim Shadbolt. Often, New Zealand inventors have been modest about what they've done, and they havnt recieved much recognition worldwide. Hence, "world famous in New Zealand". I think Earth Race was in the same league as these other achievements. I'm very sad that its sunk, and could be lost forever.

Please dont support groups who perform dangerous stunts for media coverage. I honestly believe the best way to help animals is through creative, nonviolent Vegan education. Thats what I try and do myself, and I support others who do the same.

Thank you for listening to Coexisting With Nonhuman Animals.

You can find the script for this episode, as well as downloads for every episode of Coexisting With Nonhuman Animals at coexisting with nonhuman animals .

If you want to contact me, even just to say you listened, send an email to, or on Twitter, j a y w o n t d a r t, I'd appreciate it.

Thank you for listening.


Earth Race boat ("Ady Gil")

New Yorker: Sea Shepherd Lies

Sea Shepherd tactics

Watson Shot BBC Article

Media7 video Earth Race


  1. You ask at one point what benefit the Sea Shepherds' activities have for the whales. Quite simply: They interfere with the whaling fleet, preventing the whale slaughter. They stop whales being shot at with explosive harpoons.

    That benefit alone justifies their actions, in my mind.

    Plus - I think a lot of the abolitionist writing on direct action is overly simplistic. There are ways we can take advantage of the militants within the animal rights movement to shift the centre of the debate. There's a lot of debate in political studies about the effect of militants within a movement - whether they legitimise the moderates by comparison, or condemn them by association. However, in the whaling example, Greenpeace benefits from the Sea Shepherds' activities - because the SSCS makes Greenpeace appear more moderate and approachable by comparison.

  2. Hi Jay. I have to disagree with your podcast. I have read his books (truly I dont remember anything about making up stuff)and they are doing good work. His focus has always been on whales and has frustration with Greenpeaces hands off aproach allowing the whales to be killed. I dont think he is imploying childish antics either. They have to come up with legal and not harmful ways of detering the whalers. Keep in mind that their mission is to enforce the antiwhaling laws because noone else will. There is nothing wrong with focussing on one type of animal to save just as Jane Goodall focused on primates. Do some more research and you will see that their work is justified and have only changed tactics because of the things the Japenesse began doing (throwing metal objects at them and employing an LRAD to their helicoper while in flight). The Japenesse are the ones accelerating things.


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