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Earth Warrior

Overboard with Paul Watson and the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society

by David B. Morris

209 pages, paperback, Fulcrum, 1995

Paul Watson founded the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society in 1977 to battle driftnetting and whale hunting on the high seas. Earth Warrior describes David Morris's journey with Watson on an anti-driftnet campaign in the North Pacific, where he gets a close-up view of Watson, both as a person and as one of the world's most committed environmentalists.

Praise for Earth Warrior

"Paul Watson is our modern environmental Robin Hood and this book reveals what makes him tick. Hasten the day humankind listens to his sage advice and dramatically changes the way we treat the earth and her creatures." --Berkeley Breathed

"I was absolutely delighted by Earth Warrior. Not only is it a witty and evocative account of a tremendous adventure but it is extraordinarily illuminating on the subjects of, one, the inimitable Paul Watson and, two, the whole shape of the environmental movement of today. I recommend this more highly than almost any other book that has come my way in the past two years." --Farley Mowat

Quotes from Earth Warrior

"Paul says that his turning point came when he looked deep into the eye of a dying whale. Steering his zodiac close beside two hunted whales, he was trying to stay between the whales and the harpoon cannon mounted on a massive Russian whaling ship. He could see the gunner poised to fire. It was perilous work--not getting swamped by the Russian ship or smashed by the whales, staying close enough that the gunner couldn't shoot without hitting him. He could feel the pulse of the engines and the panic of the whales. Suddenly a huge rolling wave sent the zodiac into a trough, and the harpooner shot over the top, hitting one of the whales and showering the zodiac with blood.

"Experienced harpooners shoot the female first because the male, rather than diving, will stay to defend his mate. Amid the screams of the dying female, the male turned to attack the whaling ship. Its path headed straight through the tiny zodiac.

"Paul says it looked like certain death. The enraged whale drove through the sea directly toward him, thousands of pounds churning the bloody water. There was nothing Paul could do to keep from being crushed. At the last second, the whale arched above the frail zodiac, barely missing it. Paul looked directly into an eye about as large as a human fist--a miraculous extended moment, an epiphany--in mute communion with another species. As he gazed into that huge eye, he realized that the whale understood he meant to help. Then the cannon fired again, and this time the male, too, rolled and screamed in a torrent of blood."

. . .

"At 9:30 p.m. Mark's voice, serious and almost conspiratorial, comes over the radio with an abrupt, enigmatic message: 'The kettle is boiling.' 'What the hell does that mean?' Paul mutters, setting down his book with annoyance. A long silence follows. Then Mark's voice resumes, sounding a little hurt. 'It's the code from the last campaign, remember? We have radar contact at fifteen miles.'

"The mood on the bridge turns simultaneously tense and manic. As the Sea Shepherd II swings sharply in the direction indicated by the radar, Stuart and I laugh like crazy men at the exchange between Mark and Paul. "The kettle is boiling." The homely code gets repeated to everyone who shows up on the bridge, and crew members show up quickly as word spreads that something serious is going on. Mark's spy-novel seriousness and Paul's irritated nonchalance seem to be a perfect and typical Sea Shepherd mismatch. But our laughter contains more than a trace of hysteria. I'm feeling anything but nonchalant as we get closer and closer to the unknown ship.

"After ten minutes of anxious waiting, we recognize, outlined against the late evening sky, the shape of a giant cargo vessel piled high with goods most likely on the great circle route from Japan through the Panama Canal. But it's not really a letdown. In 1990 the Sea Shepherd II sighted a cargo ship just prior to making contact with the Japanese driftnet fleet. Paul takes note of this omen. Neither the cargo ship nor another like it that appears half an hour later responds to our radio calls. He shakes his head at yet another sign of how times have changed on the high seas."

. . .

"Paul is a master of the strategic bluff--or threat. In March 1983, for example, he positioned the Sea Shepherd II at the mouth of the harbor in St. John's, Newfoundland, to blockade the Canadian seal fleet. He insists that he had no intention of attacking, but he announced publicly that he would ram the first sealing ship that left the harbor. His record of ramming ships gave credibility to the announcement, and the first rule of a successful bluff is that you must be credible. No ships left the harbor that season, and some seventy-six thousand seals escaped slaughter.

"The art of successful bluffing requires that no one except the bluffer know for sure whether it's real. A good bluff either misleads your opponent or generates deep uncertainty. That's what bothers me. People sometimes take impulsive steps and make terrible mistakes when they feel threatened and uncertain."

Earlier on the trip he told me about a man who approached him on a peace march in Vancouver a few months after Rod Coronado and David Howitt had shut down the Icelandic whaling fleet. 'I just wanted to let you know that what you people did in Iceland was reprehensible, criminal, deplorable and totally unforgivable,' the man told Paul. He continued his tirade with a series of articulate, impassioned condemnations. Paul waited patiently until the man had finished. 'What's your name?' he asked his surprised accuser. The man replied that his name was John. 'Well, John,' Paul said, 'when we planned this campaign, we didn't sit around and ask ourselves, 'I wonder what John's gonna think if we sink these ships, or maybe we should as John what his opinion is.' Frankly, John, we don't give a damn what you or anybody else on this planet thinks. We didn't sink those ships for you. We did it for the whales. It's the whales we care about, John. Not you.' "

Table of Contents of Earth Warrior

  1. The Appointment
  2. Proteus Rising
  3. Feds
  4. Un-Greenpeace
  5. Television and Anesthesia
  6. Dead Oceans?
  7. Monkeywrenches
  8. The Winnipeg Whore
  9. Squid
  10. Origin of Prosperity
  11. Conan and the Nagual
  12. What to Do

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