Wow, has that become a cliché over the years. But I hope that it's not a tired cliché as these gentle Leviathans roaming our oceans need our help more than ever. Ever wonder where it all started? Read on.
I have an amazing friend who for years has put her young life on the line to literally do battle with the many whaling nations of our planet. Emily is once again sacrificing her holiday season to be in the Antarctic aboard the Sea Shepherd ship Steve Irwin, away from family and friends, while fighting sea sickness and extreme cold. I'd be proud if either of my two young daughters were to follow in Emily's footsteps someday. Here's a note I received today from her:
"Hello friends and colleagues from the Antarctic waters. I left cold Toronto on the 4th of December to begin my voyage bound for an even colder place - Antarctica - on the Sea Shepherd anti-whaling campaign 2008-2009. After 48 hours of plane travel, five different cities, three countries and waiting in airports, I arrived on the 7th in Hobart, Australia, a small port city in Tasmania.
Sea Shepherd's ship finally arrived on the 10th in the morning and I settled into my new home for the next several months - a big black menacing-looking 180-foot patrol vessel originally bought from Scotland, the land of my ancestors. With a million dollars in upgrades, including a helicopter hanger, this ship had the air of professional eco-warrior. No longer is this a rag-tag ship with water leaking in and bolts busting off.
Instead, the ship was upgraded and made ready for war. The crew too is different: more professional and even more militant than amateurs. There is a professional helicopter pilot, a doctor, engineers, welders and former navy and police officers. Without a skilled trade in one's back pocket one almost feels useless (for me, the written word is my tool, so please visit the blog section of www.THISmagazine.ca where you can read my campaign blog Polarized).
The crew of 45 volunteers from around the world includes, for the first time ever, a crewmember from Japan. They all have a fierceness, conviction and focus I haven't seen before in the Sea Shepherd crews. Oh, and don't forget: environmentalism has gone Reality TV as Animal Planet is shooting their second season of ‘Whale Wars' during this campaign.
This is my fourth campaign abroad: I did a Galapagos conservation campaign in 2004 and three (including this one) with Sea Shepherd to the Antarctic opposing whaling. In all my sea campaigns, I have always been seasick at the beginning and this time was no exception. I've spent the last five days out of seven feeling like I was dancing with death - unable to eat, only able to be sick. Unable to work, only able to hug my mattress for dear life. It's been miserable but life has returned to me and it's a small price to pay to be aboard these important campaigns.
Today, I was able to steer the ship through a pack of ice as I work as quartermaster when I am not documenting the campaign (quartermasters work on the bridge of a ship). I stood at the helm this morning, imagining what it was like 35 years ago when my parents set in motion the first whale-saving campaign in the world with Greenpeace.
My father, Robert Hunter (co-founder and the first president of Greenpeace), listened to the ideas of Paul Spong and directed the group from stopping nuclear-testing to its next set of campaigns: saving whales. These were the campaigns that stopped Russian whaling in the Pacific Ocean. My mother Roberta (Bobbi) Hunter, Greenpeace's first treasurer, found the funding for the first campaigns and ships of Greenpeace. She once put herself directly between a harpoon and a whale, thus becoming the first woman in the world to save a whale.
They and the other Greenpeace co-founders set in motion the whale saving battle which is very much a planet-earth battle today. I stand here on the bridge of the Steve Irwin, steering the vessel in the southern oceans into an ultimate interception with whalers today, proud of my parents and happy to be a second-generation whale-saver. It's not banners and peace signs and the warmth of the south Pacific. It's very cold here and very dangerous. It truly is a war out here today. But I wouldn't want to be anywhere else.
~ For life and justice, Emily Hunter"
There is no part of a whale that is deemed essential to humans. Period. Most nations consider whales a special group of animals that should not be killed under any circumstances, even for "scientific" purposes, which is the cloak the Japanese use to justify their brutal whaling practices in the Antarctic.
Having just received the GREEN designation from NAR in November (and being "green" for as long as I can remember) I feel more and more like the planet just keeps slipping away from us so I'm thankful that we have people out there doing the "heavy lifting" for us.
Thank you Emily. Be safe and come home soon!
For further info and to donate, please visit this website: http://www.seashepherd.org/ and for the story of the Sea Shepherd: http://www.seashepherd.org/whales/sea-shepherd-history.html
Emily's brave actions have made me entertain the idea of joining a three-month Sea Shepherd crusade to protect the Galapagos Islands, a place close to my heart. I'll keep you posted on that one!
Happy Holidays to all...