Sea Shepherds Paul Watson & the Steve Irwin: Using Any Measures to Protect Their Flock

Almost ten years ago, Time Magazine proclaimed Paul Watson as one of the major environmental heroes of the 20th century. During the 1970s Watson was part of numerous Greenpeace campaigns against whaling, but he always felt that these placid confrontations had little result against saving whales. Some of these graceful animals even died from attacks with Greenpeace Zodiacs swarming around whaling vessels.

According to Watson’s biography, everything came to light in 1975, as he was forced to watch a sperm whale die a few feet from his boat after it had been harpooned by Russian hunters. This was just not acceptable.

Watson didn’t mesh well with Greenpeace and felt that more extreme measures were necessary for actual results, but his strong opinions didn’t win him any favors: He ended up expelled from the board of directors when he was 27, with only a single vote opposing the decision – his own.

Watson used this opportunity to found the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society which, unlike Greenpeace, uses more aggressive tactics to stop whaling. This doesn’t come without a price, though, and Watson has found himself in jail a few times on charges ranging from attempted murder to intentionally sinking a ship. Sea Shepherd does admit to having sunk at least ten ‘pirate’ whaling ships since 1979 and it is no surprise that a few nations look at this group as a kind of terrorist organization.

The newest ship, named after famed
Australian conservationist Steve Irwin.
(Photo: Sea Shepherd Conservation Society)

If nothing else, the current exploits of the Sea Shepherd is excellent television and it is now part of a more controversial reality TV show airing on Animal Planet. This show, adequately titled ‘Whale Wars’, aired a few months ago and already has millions of devoted fans.

Laws have been set into place to ban whaling, but it remains an issue in countries where whale meat has been a staple for centuries. Japan is one of the major players in the Whale Wars game. Every part of the whale is valued in one form or another by the Japanese, and it is hard for an entire nation to accept a law that interferes with ancient traditions. Japan has tried to find loopholes to allow whaling, such as painting ‘Research Vessel’ on the side of obvious whaling ships, but even these boats seem to turn around when confronted with Watson’s ‘terrorist’ ship.

It will be interesting to see how much of an influence organizations like Sea Shepherd have on the environment where politics have failed. Many people feel that they give environmentalists a bad rap, however it is hard not to respect a man who has given up everything to save a species he cares for deeply.

Categorized | Animals, Organizations
34 Responses to “Sea Shepherds Paul Watson & the Steve Irwin: Using Any Measures to Protect Their Flock”
  1. rover says:

    “it is hard not to respect a man who has given up everything to save a species he cares for deeply.”

    I don’t respect terrorists. Fanatic anti-abortionists feel deeply about abortion and use that logic to bomb clinics. Plus, it’s clear that Watson is arrogant and ego-maniacal and is mostly doing this to thumb his nose at greenpeace.

  2. Phyllis Stedford says:

    Sea Shepard fights for a good cause, however Paul Watson in a lousy leader. It is not hard to disrespect a man who pretends to put power in his crew’s hands, then bullies them into doing ridiculous stunts. Most outrageous of all is how he warps the truth to manipulate the media and public opinion His lies will hurt the case for saving whales.

  3. andrew says:

    Paul Watson is a hero.

    He is not a terrorist.

    The whalers are.

  4. Karina says:

    I have been a supporter of Sea Shepherd for years and to call Paul Watson a terrorist is nothing less than ignorant. His group are currently fighting to help; seals, sharks, the Galapagos Island with the support of Equador and many other important causes. The simple fact is that this year down in the dangerous waters of Antarctica only the crew of the Steve Irwin is stopping the illegal harpooning and butchering of these gentle giants by the Japanese. It is easy to sit comfortably at home and critisize people who put their lives on the line. No government or rich NGO like Greenpeace are willing to stand up to the self righteous Japanese government on this issue.

  5. Dmitry says:

    Best of luck to Paul Watson and Sea Shepherd.

  6. dave head says:

    Paul & his supporters are not terrorists – it’s the illegal whale murders who are. SSCS is upholding international law, is asking for the Japanese to honour all the multi-lateral environmental agreements thet have signed up to & to abide by the constant resolutions of the IWC condenming their illegal activities. They are in breach of IWC regulations.
    [ see for details or the SSCS web-site]

    But the agrements in place are ‘toothless’ they only snactions a nation can take against Japan are trade sanctions. Well hello that is in clear voilation the IWC rules. So it’s trade or the whales – so guess who misses out -it is not money & trade. Legal opinion is clear that many Governments [especially those 'so-called' anti-whaling nations like Australia-New Zealand- Britain etc] refuse to have the ‘balls’ to take legal action against the japanese.

    So whale [& dolphin lovers-which they also kill in their thousands each year] YOU can simply stop buying Japanese products etc. Thats a peoples trade ban- seeing your elected representatives have little moral principals to back up their oft repeated ‘words’.

    The Japanese think such ‘words’ are a sign of western weakness & don’t have any respect for such nations or their people. [the same mindset the preceeded Pearl Harbour!].

    It’s a pity people comment of Paul Watson in almost complete ignorance of the history behind this- like only a few japanese comuunities have a long history of whaling. It was after the 2nd world war when the Americans took over Japan & found that 2 out of 3 of the prisoners had been ‘murdered’ that they denied them food. They all rushed to the Ocean to find food -and then the USA permitted them to hunt whales as they had no intention of feeding the Janaese people. There is more if you care to look or have an open mind. Just beware that getting your opinions from information from the media is as dangerous as giving an wild tiger an enema.
    aroha from Aotearoa-NZ

  7. Joan says:

    Watson is not only a terrorist. Sea Shepherd is a tax deductible charity in the US, so he is a state sponsored terrorist. The state sponsoring him is the United States of America.

    Are there any tax deductible charities in the United States that are taking direct action to stop the slaughter of Palestinians in Gaza?

  8. Jeff says:

    The writing has been on the wall for a long time about extinction of species in our lifetimes. The Japanese cannot see past their dinner plates. The rest of the civilised world stand by and talk about it, but dont actually do anything. The conservation of a species is bigger than any other issue in current affairs today. We will recover from financial crashes, we can implement strategies to curb global warming – but what do we say to future generations who point to us with shame for not having prevented the demise of a species of animal such as whales?
    The killing of over a thousand whales per year for “research” MUST STOP. NOW. Best of luck Paul and all the crew on the Steve Irwin.

  9. bob campeau says:

    my only coment is this, whaling is bad. What will happen to this so called capt hero watson, if his actions kill one of his crewmen or some whalers. he admits he has sent ships to the bottom of the sea, and has atempted to kill hunters in the north atlantic in the name of savng whales. I wish Stevo was alive he would not condone seashepards actions.

  10. peace says:

    fanatics of any kind are dangerous…but to see a trusting mammal killed hurts me to my core

  11. mattersnot says:

    Now, reverse the situation.
    A Japanese ship, stalks, and then has it crew throw GLASS bottles of noxious, mild acid, at Americans. Is this not dangerous to a human being?
    Can glass cut, slash, and blind a human being?
    By ramming a vessel, with mega-tons of steel, and thrust, into an American vessel, not be an act of terrorism?
    Do we ever hear of the injuries to the crew of the other vessel? No. Yet, we all have seen the impact of colliding ships, and we all know, someone is getting hurt.
    Imagine a driver, ramming your car, on the road. No difference. NONE.
    The Steve Irwin, Captain Paul Watson , and his crew are terrorist and high sea pirates.
    No different then the Somalis who hijacked the Alabama, and were killed for doing so.
    Thus, the same measure of justice should be instantly implemented toward the Terrorist ship, “Steve Irwin.
    Because that is what America did to those who terrorized it’s ship.
    And for a bit of horrible information, 2 years ago the original ship, the Nisshin Maru, while processing a whale, in it’s bottom enclosed decks, the whale suddenly exploded. “Someone” placed a incendiary explosive in a partially dead/diseased whale. The fire was so extensive, the Nisshin Maru, nor police were unable to properly identify the bomb. It destroyed the Nisshin Maru.
    Gee, I wonder, what type of sick human being, had the motivation for such a horrendous act?
    Again, had this been an American vessel, the American public would be screaming”Kill the bastards” ET…
    Yet, a twisted irony is, , IT’S ALWAYS “OK” WHEN AMERICA ATTACKS SOMEONE. But God forbid someone do this to an American.
    Please go to the Irwin’s web site, note the sponsors, and never buy there products again.
    After all, if Americans use lethal force for there ships, then so should the Japanese.

  12. ss says:

    I am all for saving the whales but not at the expense of human life. A whale is not a human…period. A whale is a living creature just like a dog is a living creature but neither have souls. Let God handle the whalers how he sees fit. I could understand if the whalers were killing whales just for the fun of it, but they are actually eating the meat. How is killing a whale different from killing any other fish, chicken, or cow for food? Captain Watson doesn’t look like he’s surviving on fruits and veggies. He’s eating a pork chop or two somewhere along the way.

    Leave the whalers alone!! Scenario, the whalers set out to kill 5 whales today. They kill 5 but the “heroes” ruin 3 with their acid or some other means. The Japanese kill 3 more whales to replace these and the heroes are unsuccessful in ruining this meat….now 3 additional whales were unnecessarily killed…think of it logically.

    just leave the people alone…there may not be any “law” in the antarctic but there still is a God!!! And murder is a sin!!! Sinking a whaler’s ship is a sin!!! Killing hundreds of people is a sin!!!! (whaling may be a sin too but again let God handle that)

  13. Dan in Canada says:

    You want Paul and the Sea Shepards are up against?
    The Japanese have a dark history! Lets start with WII and the famous rape of Nanjing. Sick!!

    Now take a look at the new game they play, see the movie “THE COVE” released in 2009. Where they slaughter dolphins.

    The Japanese try and use the media to show they are simply doing RESEARCH, they complain that the Sea Shepherds are terrorists for doing act A, B and C, when they themselves do the same.

    If you don’t like what they are doing, close your eyes and live in your bubble. Read the rich BLOODY history of Japan and their lack of respect for the international community.

  14. Benny says:


    Blimey – what a load of do dah you write Mattersnot – If I had nothing better to do with my time i would rip everyword you have said to pieces – however, I do have better things to do with my time, so, I will just add this quote from BBC news regarding the fire of the Nisshin Marru 2 years ago

    “New Zealand maritime officials – whose country is responsible for search and rescue operations in the area – said the blaze had nothing to do with whaling protesters in the area but was possibly caused by a mechanical fault.”

  15. Diego says:

    Matter Snot -

    Your post is full of lies from beginning to end. You don’t even understand that Paul Watson is Canadian, not American.

    You’re an idiot if you think that Somali pirates with AK-47s are the same as Sea Sheperd.

    But thanks for the hint about using my dollars for political purposes. I went to Sea Sheperd’s website, bought a hat and a t-shirt and donated some more money on top of my purchases. I also decided to buy a German car next month instead of the Japanese car I was looking at. Japan is a disgrace to all civilized nations that do not kill endangered whales and I refuse to buy any products produced by Japanese companies until they stop whaling.

  16. troof says:

    It’s easy to say the Sea Shepherds are terrorists for using such aggressive methods, but where is the fault in terrorizing poachers that are blatantly disregarding the whale sanctuary in the southern sea. I’d like to know what kind of research requires the killing of so many whales yearly.

    The fact that Watson and his crew are willing to risk their lives to save these whales from being poached when the only methods they can use to prevent the Japanese whalers from doing so are non-lethal makes them some pretty amazing heroes if you ask me. In a world where families are killed by bombs and machine guns daily and some times for no reason at all, where the attempts of a peaceful occupancy by the American military in Iraq was sabotaged by the American government seemingly for the sole purpose of creating the insurgency that ensued, not to mention how many have been murdered or imprisoned without any evidence that could possibly incriminate them, I think some volunteers who risk being shot into the freezing Antarctic ocean by powerful water jets, or loosing the ability to drive a boat (or fly a helicopter for that matter) as a result of the use of an LRAD, or even placing all of their own lives at the greatest risk by using their much smaller vessel as a last ditch effort to prevent the Japanese from profiting on killing that is so obviously not being done solely for research are the most peaceful, benevolent, and brave individuals on the face of the planet.

    Does anyone ask the Japanese researchers for reports on whatever it is they are supposedly studying? They couldn’t possibly be making such a dramatic scientific progress that continuing to murder innocent beings is truly in the best interest of humanity.

  17. stephiebaby_06 says:

    I applaud the efforts of the Sea Shepherds! When my little boy is old enough to understand about the world, I want him to be able to see a real whale in the world and not read about it at the museum and find out that my generation was responsible to killing them all off!!


  18. funpig says:

    Cpt Paul needs to step down. He’s a terrible soldier. Replace him with someone who has a little more iron and discipline running through their veins and they might have a real effect.

  19. cheryl bates says:

    animals do have souls and it matters very much how they are treated. Even the bible makes reference to the animals speaking out against their cruel treatment. Paul Watson is the whales champion!

  20. funnyazn says:

    I agree with the Sea Shephards tactics cause the Japanese is not going to stop whaling if they just held up signs and protested they need to act and acting is what there doing. I mean don’t get me wrong I wound feel sympathy for the Japanese If they just admit that there whaling for economical purposes, not research I mean what could they possibly learn from killing a whale. And if they do have to kill a whale for research I’m sure they can learn that same information by killing 2 or 3 whales not 1000! And the Sea Shephards did ram the Japanese whaling ship because they were a.) Whaling in a Australian whale sanctuary and b.) In front of the Sea Shephards! ofcourse the Anti Whaling group would do something like that! Don’t the whalers have common sense!? If the Sea Shephards would try to stop you when your just in the Whale Sanctuary what do you think they’ll do if you whalers are whaling in front of them!

  21. Alice says:

    I have been watching and reading about the whales and the important role they have in the balance they bring to the ocean keeping the balance of the ocean safe. I think Paul Watson is a hero. Yes he was asked to leave greenpeace because he wanted them to be more proactive. So they asked him to leave an organization he helped to establish. If we had more people like Paul Watson and his crew the world would be much better off. If I were not a lady in her 60s I would be on that ship. Go with God Paul and let him lead you and your cause, that should be our cause.

  22. Gail says:

    I had never heard about Paul Watson, the Sea Shepherd and their mission until I saw Whale Watchers on Animal Planet. Curiosity led me to watch a few shows and do some research on whales, the politics surrounding them and the reasons argued from both sides for their ‘reasoning and purpose’.

    I just watched the Whale Watchers TV show and witnessed the Japanese Whaling vessels kill 4 whales in a matter of 60 minutes. They hunted down, harpooned, dragged majestic whales struggling for their lives to their boats. Each whale was shot at until they were dead. Then dragged up on to the boat to be cut up like sushi in the name of so called “research”. PLEASE!!

    If it takes a pregnant female whale (depending on its species) up to 16 months to give birth, by my calculations the whales were just severely out numbered. With out this TV program I would have no idea what was going on out there.

    That Paul Watson has been at this since he is 27 does not sound like ego to me but passion and compassion for the whales. I am envious that I have not found something I am as deeply passionate about. Something that I would go to the extent that Paul Watson and all the other crew members do. To dedicate my life to it. I am in awe of all of them.

    While I could sit around and debate whether they are handling it the right way or the wrong way, at least they are out ‘handling’ it…period…. Hats off to all of you. Now that my awareness has been raised, I will do what I can from the shores.

  23. DS says:

    I applaud people like Paul Watson and his crew as they are the type of individuals that this world actually needs, it is easy for all of us to sit here and cricise what he does but have any of you been passionate enough about something in order to have the courage to go against everything, everyone says and to see to it that you protect it, never mind what you actually give up in the process.

    I wish there were more committed individuals in the world becuase we as humans are destroying this earth that we claim to love sop dearly. Everything that we do takes us one step closer to it’s destruction and Sea Sheppherd and the Steve Irwin are just one lot of individuals trying to protect it.

    People say that they are terrorists becuase of trying to protect what they believe in, well I say they are Hero’s

    Everyone should take a good long look at how humans are destroying each other all over the world, (and we are supposed to be the intelligent mamels) and should then applaud the people of Sea Shepphard for trying to ensure that there will one day be a world left ….

  24. god says:

    All them japs want shot.. 900+ whales for research .. come on pull the other one!! Lucky it was Paul and not me as i would weld spikes on my ship to sink Them.. Oh and whoever said about class cutting ppl.. Then what about the nuts and bolt’s hitting the steve irwin’s crew..

  25. god says:

    At 1800 Hours the harpoon vessels Yushin Maru No. 1 and the Yushin Maru No.3 decided to run the Sea Shepherd blockade to transfer two dead whales to the flensing deck of the Nisshin Maru. The Sea Shepherd ship Steve Irwin was blocking the slipway to prevent the transfer in order to shut down the illegal Japanese whaling operations.

    As the Nisshin Maru attempted to hook onto the dead whale, the Steve Irwin and the Yushin Maru No.3 collided with the forward starboard side of the Steve Irwin and the port stern side of the harpoon vessel coming together.

    “We told them to not continue their illegal whaling operations and that we would be blocking the stern slipway of the factory ship,” said Captain Paul Watson. “They decided to test our resolve and apparently expected us to retreat when they charged in ahead of us to make the transfer.”

    Captain Watson said that the Steve Irwin became difficult to control under a barrage of metal objects, blasts from the water cannons, and the disorientation caused by the LRAD acoustic weapons that the whalers were using on the conservationists.

    “I was dazed by the sonic blasts being used on us at close range.” said Captain Watson. “I have to admit it was difficult to concentrate with that devise being focused on us.”

    “I’ve never felt anything quite like it,” said Emily Hunter from Toronto, Canada. “It penetrates the body and you can feel your muscles vibrating. It made me dizzy and left me somewhat dazed.”

    The Steve Irwin suffered no noticeable damage from the collision and no one was seriously injured. A few of the Sea Shepherd crew were struck by golf balls and pieces of metal. The crew of the Steve Irwin were unable to determine if there was any damage done to the harpoon hunter killer boat.

    The two whales were transferred after the Steve Irwin shut down the operations of the fleet for twelve hours.

    “We are trying to make this as difficult as possible for them to continue their illegal activities, “said Molly Kendall from Adelaide, South Australia. “It is difficult to see them murdering these whales and we are determined to do everything we possibly can to stop this horrific slaughter.”

    The Steve Irwin remains on the tail of the Nisshin Maru to attempt to obstruct any further transfers in an effort to stop the unlawful poaching of the whales by the Japanese whaling fleet.

    “I wish we did not have to be down here in this dangerous situation,” said Captain Watson. “I’ve said repeatedly that if Australia or New Zealand would agree to take Japan to the international court on this than we would back off. Because international law is not being enforced, we have no choice but to do what we can with the resources available to us to defend these endangered whales in this established international whale sanctuary.”

  26. John says:

    Wanting to kill 1000 whales for research sounds a little high. The only research I can see for this is to make more products out of the whales. Keep fighting and good luck.

  27. joe says:

    well, another deluded person. sea shepherd saves lives. animal lives. just because there not human dosn’t mean they don’t matter.
    sea sheperd has never killed or hurt any human being, that pretty much disqualitfys them from being terrorists. those who kill sentient beings are more terroristic then paul or any member of sea shepherd.
    Paul Watson is a great leader, though some of his officers are alittle iffy. no other organiztion is as direct as them. greenpeace is ok, they do things there own way, which is a little less then effective.

    and if you dont already know, japense “research”is commercial in disguise.

  28. Jim says:

    Paul Watson is a physcopathic terrorist. Unfortunately he is also a coward,never placing himself in danger, only his crew. As a former mariner I am absolutely amazed that this person is not in jail considering how little regard he has for the well being or in fact the lives of his crew. Where did he receive his “captains” designatin from? What country has registered his ship? For the well being and lives of the crew it is simply to bad he wasn’t standing on the bow of that joke of a boat that got hit yestereday. Of course we know he doesn’t have guts enough to put himself in harms way.. Very pathetic indeed.

  29. Jim says:

    Now that the “Ady Gil” (or whatever) has been damaged beyond repair, will Paulie tow it back to a port, or will he allow it to sink, thus contributing to environmental pollution?? What do you think?……………………………………

  30. r6ger says:

    kudos jim, finally some common sense.
    since when is it ok to take the law into ones own hands, and violate the law as well. (are the japanese really violating a law, or is this the ships cover?) /

  31. mary kennedy says:

    Good on you Paul Watson … the victories of you and your crew are as tangable as they are wondeful … truth is a relative thing to the japanese i am afraid …but not to Paul Watson …the japanese will never understans the Australian Culture whereby (generalization-but valid) nature and the environment is a soul felt phenomena …alas … the Japanese have no concept of love for the world environment /eco system …(generalization but valid) … they show far more passion for designer labels and designer sushi …. Go Sea shepherd!!!!!!!!!!

  32. joe says:

    if he’s a terorist, then why has sea shepherd never been sued?

    and i love how everyone says he’s in experienced and stuff. he worked on merchant vesseles, captining several, throught everything from the souht china sea, the arctic ocean.

    then he worked for the canadian coast gaurd for about 3 years, and worked on everything from weather ships, hovercrafts, and even was an officer sailing throught the persian gulf several times, during the war there.

    and he’s never killed anyone, and not a single crew member of his has died. if you look it that way, greenpeace is worse. a handful of people on there ships have died.

    everything they have done is legal. there is a clasue in the U.N. charter for nature that says non-governmental organizations can enforce envirenmantal laws.

    and master snot, no one ever put a bomb in a whale. the ship caught fire because of the whalers screwing up. the nissin maru then burned for sevral days and endangered many animals in or near antartica, as the whalers evacuated, then left the shp to burn. whne it stopped burning, they towed it back to japan.

  33. shestag says:

    Paul Watson has not only faced this devasting so called RESEARCH from the Japanese he has put his life on hold and risks it daily for the safety of these helpless mamals. God put these and other creatures here for all of us to enjoy and not just at the dinner table. The Japanese have ruined all of our lives from the hit on Pearl Harbor to the now destrustion of the innocense of these whales. Are we so quick to forget that they have no conscious and will kill or destroy anything in there way to get what they want.
    No country, including the US should ever call it research when it requires an extreme amount of life giving blood spilled. Paul Watson has put his soul and life into the preservation of these innocent whales and many other marine life, what have you done?
    What will you stand for in life and give up?
    As we sit back in our comfortable chairs, enjoying our saturday evenings out and monday night footbal one man stands alone year after year giving all this up for the preservation of what he believes in.
    Until Japan or any other country can prove to me that this measure amount of RESEARCH is needed and continue to destroy these whales I will never buy anything made in Japan again and I will support this cause and if I were 20 yrs younger I’d sign up for a term aboard the Steve Irwin.
    So many are so quick to stand in judgement yet none are willing to devote and give it up as Paul Watson himself has done to keep these whales alive for our grandchildren and there children and many generations to come if they survive. At the rate that Japan is taking these whales illegally they will cease to exist in less than 20 yrs..I don’t want that on my concious, do you?
    Japan has made a mockery of the whole world and it’s citizens by poaching these whales, calling it research and no one will stand up to them not even the UN.
    I personally wished I could stop them, blow them all up or even burn them down but I can not so I will support this cause by donation…you go Paul Watson. I do not believe in Greenpeace or am not a Tree Hugger or Animal Activist I am just one person who believes
    and knows right from wrong and this is wrong….any form of poaching is wrong!
    I thought the masive killing of innocent dolphins was bad enough but for Japan to use the Dolphins, Tuna, and everything else in our sea without any recourse is wrong, they need to be stopped before it’s too late.

  34. magnus camps says:

    hello, you are real hero’s and deserve twice the nobelprice..;. we love you ,we love you and we love you always till the end of time so long magnus camps I’ll do my best in my neighbourhood , so ecological greetings, so long;;;


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