Sunday, April 17, 2011

Beluga Whale Campaign

Churchill River Estuary, Manitoba

August, 1992

By David Nickarz

In 1992 I was 20 years old when I took part in my first direct action campaign. I traveled to Churchill, Manitoba with four other activists to stop the capture of Beluga Whales for the Shedd Aquarium in Chicago. We were opposed to the use of wild animals in captivity, so we decided to do our best to stop the capture.

In August of every year the Beluga Whales would return to the calving grounds in the Churchill River estuary, on Hudson’s Bay. The whales would be close enough to the town of Churchill for people to come out in boats and attempt a capture.

We read old news reports talking about how the whale chasers would jump on the whale and ride it while it tried to get away. It was like a rodeo to them, and just as cruel.

There were also reports of whales dying because of ‘capture shock’. The stress of being violently removed from their family group and forced into captivity actually caused the whales to die.

In the St. Lawrence Seaway the Beluga whales had to deal with heavy pollution and their numbers are dropping and now are estimated to be only about 1000. In the early 20th century the government put a bounty on the Belugas because they thought that the whales competed with the fishery. As a contrast, the Hudson’s Bay population was a healthier 25,000 and we wanted to keep it that way. The way we saw it, human kind had done enough damage to this species. It was time for reparations, not to continue to reduce their populations for our amusement.

There was no doubt in our minds that the capture needed to be stopped. We took it upon ourselves to put an end to this barbaric interference with wildlife.

Animals are not ours to

eat, wear, experiment on, use for entertainment or abuse in any way

A decision had to be made. I remember sitting in a meeting with the local animal rights group and arguing for a direct action campaign—getting ourselves up to where the action was and stopping the despoilers of our wildlife. I was new to this group and didn’t hold much influence. Some of them were skeptical.

Why spend all that money to get people up there and do what? Get a photo opportunity? How exactly did we intend to stop the capture—ram their boats with our own?

Being violent would look bad on camera. The media would be there to cover the confrontation, but they wouldn’t hesitate to portray us in a bad light. We didn’t intend to give them any reason to.

To get our boat to Churchill, we had to ship it by rail from Winnipeg, which would cost a few hundred dollars. Getting people to Churchill involved driving ten hours to Thompson and taking a train for the last 350 kilometers, as there were no roads. Each ticket on the train was $120.00. Accommodations, food and fuel would have to be factored into the cost too.

Our group was small and didn’t have much money. With all these expenses the campaign could cost more than two thousand dollars and we couldn’t guarantee results.

Those of us who wanted to go argued that opposing this capture required being in the place where it was happening. Being 1500 kilometers away from the action in Winnipeg wasn’t going to stop anything, no matter how much noise we made. We would be seen as armchair quarter-backs at best.

In the end the call for direct action won out and we were on our way. I was allowed to join the campaign because I could pay my own travel expenses. Five men made up the direct action team. James, Bill, Jonathon and I were from Winnipeg. [Baltimore] was with People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) and he hailed from Baltimore, Maryland.

Donations and offers of help started pouring in.

Paul Watson of the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society had offered us the use of an inflatable boat, but we would have to drive out to Vancouver to get it. We didn’t have the time to drive 36 hours each way to pick it up or the money to have it shipped, so we thanked him but turned him down.

I raised some money for my expenses and my good friend Laura gave me a big, wool sweater to keep me warm.

The Media

“We will take our motor boat and save the whales from a life in a concrete prison.”

How this would be achieved was beyond us, but made bold and decisive statements to the media. It all sounded great on camera and in print, but in reality we would have to make it up as we went along.

Direct action was relatively new to Manitoba and the rural North.

The media were also keen on this story because there was the possibility of violence --violence on the whales for one and the chance of violence between the capture team and the animal activists. It would be more likely that we would be the recipient of violence, as is true in most direct actions.

I gave this very little thought as we jumped in the old, beat-up van and began the long drive to Thompson. I was just interested in getting there and doing my best for the whales.

During the drive up I decided to become vegan. My van mates were all vegan and encouraged me to do the same. I had become vegetarian the year before and it made sense and was the next logical step as a compassionate consumer. From that day on I decided not to buy or consume animal products.

After a bleak 10 hours on the road we arrived in Thompson we got some bad news. [did we read this in the newspaper?] The capture team arrived early in Churchill and had already captured four whales were in the process of testing them for parasites. The whales with too many parasites wouldn’t likely survive the stress of the flight back to Chicago and their prison in the Shedd Aquarium. If this was the case then the whales would be returned to the water and new ones would be captured.

If the whales were kept, then our efforts would have been wasted. If we turned back and some of the whales weren’t kept, then we would have missed our chance to intervene.

We took a chance and continued on our way to Churchill. Our gamble payed off when two of the whales had to be released due to high levels of parasites. They would have to capture two more, and this was our chance to take action.

The last 350 km to Churchill had to be traveled by rail because there were no roads. Flying was out of the question since the fare from Winnipeg would have been $1500 per person—way beyond our means. The rail line was so badly maintained that the average speed was a meager 25 kilometers per hour—so very much slower than our drive to Thompson. We were half convinced that the railway had slowed the train down to thwart our efforts.

During the ride up a woman working on the train approached us and asked us if we were from Greenpeace—to her mind everyone who was an animal activist must be from Greenpeace—so we told her ‘no’. It was the truth.

She then said “We don’t like people coming up here and telling us what to do.”

This was our first indication of the local opposition to our action. We would encounter more.

We arrived at the Churchill train station and saw the old northern town. The population only numbered around 600. In the past, it was home to the Rocket Research Range and numbered in the thousands at its peak.

We rented a truck and looked for somewhere to fuel up. We came upon a gas station with a sign in the window saying “Animal rights actors go home”. We ignored the directive, filled up the truck and cheerfully paid for our gas while the attendant watched us cautiously. I was starting to get nervous about the potential danger of being in this town.

We got a room at the Churchill motel and hunkered down until our boat got into town. I came prepared.

“Look what I brought!” I said. I pulled a bag of trail mix out of my suitcase and proudly showed it to my roommates. Sadly, everyone else had the same idea and presented their own bag of trail mix. This town wasn’t friendly to vegans, so our diet consisted largely of trail mix for five days. I couldn’t eat it for years afterwards without cringing.

We went to the motel eatery for a meal of dry toast and fruit and encountered the big man in town. He was in charge of the captures and was host to the aquarium staff who were in town.

We were informed that the boat had arrived, but we could only retrieve it on certain days of the week. We thought we were still flying under the town’s radar after telling our train attendant that we were not from Greenpeace. We were mistaken.

Our motel room phone rang and Bill picked it up. It was Bill’s wife inquiring about how we were doing.

“How did you find out which room we were in?” asked Bill.

He listened for the response and finished his call. We all were silent, waiting for Bill’s explanation.

“She told the operator she was looking for the animal rights guys and was patched through to this motel room,” Bill said. Clearly, everyone in town knew who we were and where we were.

My anxiety level increased.

Anne, an older woman representing a wildlife conservation group was also in town to monitor the situation, but wasn’t going to try to stop the capture. It was hastily decided that we would meet and chat about the campaign at the local bar. We were approached by a blind-drunk man who staggered up to us and asked “Are you the fuckers from Greenpeace that want to fuck up the capture?”

Again with the Greenpeace thing.

We decided that the bar wasn’t the best venue for a meeting and left.

By this time I was scared shitless. I was way outside my comfort zone for the first time away from my suburban lifestyle where I was always very close to home and safety. I was very far away from home and there were people who wanted to see us hurt.

I was lobbying hard to go home on the train that we just arrived on. Our next opportunity to leave was five days later. Luckily, my colleagues talked me down and told me I wasn’t going anywhere. I had decided that I could stay up all night worrying, or I could just let it go and get a good sleep. I chose sleep.

The next day our boat arrived at the railway storage facility. We were frustrated to learn that it was closed. After many phone calls, we found out that it didn’t open until the next day, which would further delay our plan of action.

During our wait to get our boat, we donned wet suits and went to swim with the whales at Cape Merry historical park. We were excited at the prospect of swimming with the whales. After enthusiastically wading in waist-deep, a park officer called us out of the water and informed us that the tidal currents were too strong for swimming. We had come dangerously close to being swept out to sea.

When we finally got our late asses out to the next day’s capture, three of us stayed on shore at the holding tank where first two whales were kept. The other two went in the boat to intervene in the capture. We soon found out that we had missed the last two captures by just minutes. These two whales would later pass the parasite test and be kept.

Our boat pulled up to shore and our two colleagues jumped out to confront the capture team. We didn’t want endanger the whales while they were being transferred to the holding tank.

The local RCMP was there, as well as the media—cameras rolling. We also video taped the action with our own camera. The captured whales were being held in a large tank, which we later learned was used to hold whale oil from when this same spot had been used for killing whales. The newly captured whales were hoisted by crane and harness into the holding tank where so many of their kind had been slaughtered.

Our boat was hastily run onto the shore and I was asked to stand guard. The blind-drunk man from the bar was in one of the capture boats a few meters off shore. He was glaring at me. He threw a small anchor attached to a rope near by me on the shore. It landed with a metallic clank on the pebbly beach. He threw it again, this time closer to me.

I was fearful that he would hit me next, so I pulled the boat out of the water on shore and joined my colleagues.

The more experienced activists started a speak-out for the whales. This involves talking loudly about the issue for the sake of the media present and in an attempt to sway the captors. A friend would later tell me that he saw us on CNN. Our action had achieved international media coverage.

The cameras recorded as James and [Baltimore] spoke about the plight of the whales, how it would live the rest of its life in a prison—the walls of the aquarium tank would reflect the whale’s sonar. It would be like making a human live in a box of mirrors. These whales did not belong to us to exploit in this way. They deserved to live their lives in the wild, unmolested by human interference.

This helped to alleviate my fear and brought me back to why I was there-- to save the lives of these whales. If that failed--which it had--we then had to speak out and become an uncompromising advocate on their behalf.

The two, one thousand kilogram whales were being hoisted out of the water with a crane and harness. They were visibly stressed and making high-pitched squeaks and whistles. It is no surprise that they are also known as the Sea Canary.

I engaged one of the captors in a conversation about the whales. I said that it was cruel to take the whales out of their habitat and imprison them in a cement tank. I said it would be like taking one of us and putting us in a box. The whale captor responded by telling me that, “If I were to put you in a box, I wouldn’t give you any air to breathe.”

We were reduced to watching the whales get put into the holding tank. They were then put in special crates and trucked to an airplane for their final destination to Chicago.

We had nothing better to do but follow the trucks and watch from the airport fence as they loaded them on the planes. We watched in silence from behind the fence. After all the bluster and proclamations of action we had failed these whales. They were now destined to live their diminished lives out in a prison. Tourists would gawk at them and pay $12 for the chance.

We left Churchill feeling like failures. We had made grand pronouncements about stopping the capture and we barely made it to the show. We had simply watched the last two whales get taken and put in crates like so much inanimate cargo.

We caught the next train to Thompson and drove the long ride back to Winnipeg. The night we arrived our friends had cooked us a meal and welcomed us like heroes. It was good to be home and appreciated the hot meal that was not trail mix, but we didn’t feel like heroes.

Our depression was deepened when only days after the whales had arrived in Chicago, a veterinarian had given the whales an overdose of antibiotics and killed two of them. We were heartbroken. Our failure had now involved two deaths and we felt directly responsible.

I learned a very hard lesson about activism. We proclaim to save lives and protect those who cannot defend themselves. It’s all well and good to talk about something, but to actually achieve it is much more work. I had to ask myself a serious question at that dark moment. Did I want to continue to be an activist, knowing that I might feel this shitty again? Did I really want to take responsibility for lives that most certainly would be lost? Could I handle the psychological devastation that comes with fighting a losing battle?


Shortly after the whales were killed, a federal government committee on marine wildlife had recommended a policy that no more Belugas be captured for export. One of the reasons for the policy change was the efforts of animal welfare groups opposing the captures.

Since the late 1960’s there had been whales captured in Churchill every few years.

In 1998 the Montreal Biodome Aquarium wanted two Belugas for their aquarium. This time the town of Churchill rallied against the captures. The whale watching companies were no longer intimidated by the big man in town who was in charge of the capture team--he had moved away. Even the mayor of Churchill was opposed to the capture based upon the potential negative effects on the whale watching industry.

We readied ourselves to take action all over again, but to our delight, our efforts were not needed. The Biodome avoided the controversy and chose to get their Belugas from Russian waters. It was a partial victory, but there was one more place in our world that whales were left to live their lives without fear of human exploitation.

Our actions helped to stop Beluga Whale captures since 1992! Our proximate failure had become a long term success. We had generated enough media attention on the issue and had swayed government policy. The local community had overcome intimidation and become advocates for the whales.

In 1999 I had the chance to stop in Chicago and visit the Shedd Aquarium. I wanted to see those whales again, face-to-face. I watched the two remaining whales through the glass while they swam around what was most likely their final home.

Standing among the gawking, noisy tourists I quietly apologized to the whales.

Monday, February 7, 2011

Egyptian Revolution

The revolution in Egypt has been capturing my attention lately. It’s new and exciting to think of what can happen for the people of a country who have lived under a US-backed dictator for 30 years.

The protests have been quite well attended and fairly peaceful--at least from the side of the anti-government people. The police and hired thugs have no problem maiming and killing people to further their aims. I have mixed feelings of hope and confusion about this.

The hope is that the less violent side wins and helps form a new government that reflects the needs of the people first. This would lead to more peaceful relations with the surrounding countries. That’s the hope.

My confusion arises from how you can let someone like Mubarak breathe the same air as you knowing he tortured and killed your loved ones. He’s doing it right now to some of the protesters that were arrested two weeks ago. Given the chance he would have everyone in Tahrir square put to death.

The million plus protest on Tuesday, February 1 could have marched to Mubarak’s home and made his wish of dying on Egyptian soil come true.

I guess we’ll see if my hope or confusion prevails.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Ask a Sea Shepherd Crew Member

Part II - Animal Planet

By David Nickarz

Tenth Engineer

This is the second instalment of my article on what it’s like being a Sea Shepherd crew member. I’ve spent twelve years volunteering for the Sea Shepherds. I’ve been on 8 campaigns in total, four of which have been Antarctic Campaigns. The first Antarctic Campaign had someone filming on board, but since we didn’t find the whaling fleet, nothing came of it. The second one I joined was the 2006-07 campaign Operation Leviathan where we had two confrontations with the whalers. There was a documentary film team on board that campaign which produced the film At the Edge of the World. It is the most accurate and beautiful depiction of our campaigns I have ever seen. I highly recommend seeing it.

I was on board for both Operation Musashi (2008-09) and Operation Waltzing Matilda (2009-10), both of which had Animal Planet film teams on board. This corresponds to Whale Wars season 2 and 3. This blog entry was inspired by the following question in the comments section of the first blog entry. (see archives).

“I'd like to know if you've noticed any change in atmosphere onboard since Animal Planet film crews started coming along. Is it intrusive at all?”

I think the second part of the question can be answered easily. Yes, it was intrusive. It’s not that we haven’t had any other media on board—every campaign involves some form of filming. Animal Planet sends about 8-10 crew on board who film every aspect of ship life. They set up cameras and microphones in key places around the ship including the bridge, mess and deck. You can assume everything you say or do in these common areas is going to be recorded.

It’s not like we aren’t warned about this ahead of time. I want to be clear about this up front. You have a choice as a crew member—stay or go. It’s really that simple. We are told before the campaign starts about Animal Planet and their work.

They have a job to do. Their job is to film the campaign for their parent company and make money through advertising. We accept this arrangement because our organisation gets the exposure of being on a popular and award winning reality TV show. More importantly the whaling issue gets out to millions of people around the world. This has helped to put pressure on the government of Japan and the corporations that are involved in poaching whales in the Southern Ocean Whale Sanctuary.

Many of the crew come from activist backgrounds. I can speak for a few of them when I say we are not used to having our actions portrayed as they are on what is referred to as ‘reality TV’. After the first season of Whale Wars, one of the high ranking crew members was not impressed with how the show portrayed our ship and crew. He expected it to be more of a documentary film.

I could go on and on about ‘reality TV’ but I won’t. If you’ve seen it, you know what it’s about.

I had a bit of a “do-you-know-who-I-am?” moment the first time I was asked a question by the AP crew on Operation Musashi. There was an inane argument about modifying the bridge wing bulk head to allow for easier filming of the deck crew. There were strong opinions about it from everyone partly because the question was asked by the producer along with a cameraman recording the answer. When it got to me I was pissed off. I said it was a non-issue and cut the interview short.

I don’t know what I expected. I was a veteran crew member with years of experience and I (wrongly) assumed that I would be treated differently. Maybe I had visions of long conversations about my previous exploits on past campaigns, with the appropriate music in the background and everyone hanging on my every word.

Like I said, it was a “do-you-know-who-I-am?” moment.

Animal Planet filmed the action on board and interviewed the crew about it afterwards. The deck crew got most of the attention since they drove the small boats into battle with the whalers. The bridge crew were the next most TV-worthy. The galley and engine room were the least filmed. They would come down to the engine room (usually off-limits to everyone but engine room crew) only when there was a mechanical or electrical problem. Then we would have the added burden of fixing the problem in front of cameras.

As you may have seen from the show, some of the crew were filmed in their cabin as they are waking up. That’s pretty intrusive.


Unlike campaigns in the past where there was media on board, the difference is the fact that you know this is all going to be on TV in a few months. Every mistake, misspoken word and argument will be out there for millions of people to see. You try to be on your best behaviour, but things happen that you can’t take back.

I think my only appearances on the show was when I was commenting on the ice scraping against the hull at the first few episodes of season 2. We were stuck in the ice with the Steve Irwin, which did not have an ice class hull. There was the very real possibility of having a hull breach and the ship sinking. One of my scenes was me speaking calmly about the predicament. The other one was me exclaiming “Who the fuck is driving this thing?” as I went to check for damage.

I wish I had chosen my words more carefully.

Even though it felt like it was too intense at times, I understand the role of AP on board. Over the last three years they are the reason why we have reached so many people. Our campaigns are stronger because of the donations and volunteer work of thousands of people who would not have known about us if they had not watched us on TV.

Everyone understands what it means to have them on board. Individually, some of the Animal Planet crew were quite a chore.

To be continued…

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Operation Waltzing Matilda
Rewritten by David Nickarz
With apologies to Eric Bogle

When I was a young man, I carried my pack
And I lived the free life of a rover
From the Murray’s green basin to the dusty outback
I waltzed my Matilda all over

Then in 2009 my captain said son
It’s time to stop whaling--there’s work to be done
So he gave me an LRAD and a big t-shirt gun
And sent me away to the war;

Operation Waltzing Matilda
As we sailed away from the quay
And amidst all the tears and the shouts and the cheers
We sailed off towards the Ross Sea


Now those who weren’t sea sick
Did their best to survive
In that mad world of ice, wind and gyre
And for several long days I kept myself alive
While the water around us got higher

Then a big ocean swell knocked me arse over tit
And then I turned green and went to my bed
I was sea sick as hell, Christ, I wished I was dead
Never knew there were worse things than dying

Operation waltzing Matilda
To the green bushes so far away
For to mop floors and heads, a man needs sea legs
No more waltzing Matilda for me


How well I remember last summer’s campaign
the blood stained my mind and the water
We fought for those Minkes, all of six days
They were butchered like lambs at the slaughter

The whalers was ready, they primed themselves well
They hit us with LRADS, and they sprayed us as well
And with five whales killed, they’d sent us all to hell
Nearly sent us right back to Australia..

That was operation Musashi
We didn’t stop to mourn the slain
Our ship hit theirs and the whalers got scared
They thought twice about doing that again


It was early new year and we had a new ship,
The Bob Barker came down from Maritius
She was an old whaler, now heavy with fuel
Her hull in the ice it would keep us.

The day we revealed her, the Ady was struck
No body was hurt in a stroke of good luck
With two million lost, ah, who gives a fuck?
Life is worth more than possessions

Operation Waltzing Matilda
It’s a wonder the crew wasn’t killed
The world stopped and read of this violent attack
Captain Pete would deliver the bill


So we collected the seasick, the wounded and shamed
And shipped them back home to Australia
The weary, the saddened, the partly insane
Three months on the water will do ya

And as our ship pulled into Macquarry quay
I looked at the place where right whales used to be
And sadly, there weren’t any waiting for me
I grieve, I mourn and I pity.

Operation Waltzing Matilda
As we stepped down the gangway
The campaign was done, but the whales had no fun
And most of the crew went away.


And now every June I sit on my couch
And I watch the Whale Wars on the ‘telly
I see my old comrades, how proudly they fought
Re-edited dreams of reality

I see me old friends, all twisted and torn
The unpaid heroes of a biocentric war
And the young people ask, what are they working for?
And I ask myself the same question

Operation Waltzing Matilda
And the new crew still answer the call
But year after year whale numbers get fewer
Might be none left to fight for at all

Waltzing Matilda, waltzing Matilda
Who’ll go a-waltzing Matilda with me?

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Back Home After Operation Waltzing Matilda

I just sat down and viewed the video of the destruction of the Ady Gil by the whale poaching vessel Shonan Maru 2. I’m quite surprised nobody was killed after such a violent collision. The Ady Gil crew must have thought their life was in serious danger.

I know--I should have been writing this more than two months ago, but I was on the crew of the Sea Shepherd ships Steve Irwin and Bob Barker until March 6th. After vegetating at some friends home in Hobart (thanks guys) I did not pay attention to any news. My goal was to change my flight to get me home earlier. I flew home on Friday and spent the weekend with my wife.

It’s only now that I checked out one of the most popular videos on the internet.

The destruction of the Ady Gil demonstrates that governments do not care about whales or their protectors. If we had sunk a whaling ship then we’d be all in jail right now. Maybe we should do that next year to see if they have the same reaction.

After 90 days at sea, I’m rather worn down. There is a demonstration against the Canadian seal slaughter, who’s sales barely broke one million dollars last season. We spent more than that on fuel for our ships this year. The government subsidises the slaughter to the tune of 12 million per year--which makes absolutely no sense whatsoever. This seal slaughter is fighting it’s inevitable death as we put the final nail in it’s coffin.

I’ve been to the hunt twice and I don’t know if I can handle another season. I’ll do my part at the protest tomorrow.

I want to thank all of the crew members of the Ady Gil, Bob Barker and Steve Irwin for taking the time to defend the whales this year. I think we may have saved more than five hundred from the harpoon. There’s not a better group of rag-tag sailors I’d rather spend 90 days with in the Southern Indian ocean. You guys are in my heart forever.

David Nickarz
March 14, 2010

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Speach at Fremantle Town Hall

I did a short speach about being a crew member at the Fremantle Town Hall, December 1, 2009. Fremantle, Western Australia. afterwards I answered a few questions from the audience. By far the most endearing question was from a little girl who asked "What is your favourite animal that you have saved?"

Hi, my name is David Nickarz and I've been a Sea Shepherd crew member for nearly 12 years. This will be my eighth campaign--my fourth journey to the Antarctic waters to stop the Pirate whalers.

I've been asked to tell you what it's like being a crew member and share stories of my experiences.

I was on the first SEa Shepherd Antarctic campaign in 2002 where we spent 47 days searching for whalers.

I was unable to help out with the 2005 Antarctic Campaign due to an illness. I got better for Operation Leviathan in 2007. My most vivid memory from that campaign was the collision between our ship and the Kaiko Maru. After searching for several long weeks, we finally found the whalers.

We were chasing this ship for some time and I had just offered to relieve the cheif engineer so that he could get up on deck and watch the action.

I was on the bottom deck of the engine room, in the cave--called that for it's low deck head. As I was hunched over when we collided with the whaler and I was almost thrown into the large, spinning propeller shaft. After the initial jolt and surprise, the ship healed over for several seconds.

I crawled my way out of the cave and joined the other crew in the search for breeches in the hull.

During last year's campaign, we spent six days straight chasing whalers and doing actions. I had very little sleep--and I'm someone who needs my sleep.

I had just retired to my bunk to get some much needed rest. I was jolted awake by a major collision with the Yushin Maru #3. As our ship scraped along their hull, I frantically got dressed and went out to help search for damage.

My point is that being a crew member can be very stressful. We put up with long hours, dirty work, and fifty foot swells. You volunteer for months at a time, far away from home and loved ones.

I leave my lovely wife Laura at home in Canada over Christmas and new years to do this work.

There are advantages, however. First of all you get to meet some of the most fascinating and dedicated people from all over the world. My fellow crew are the best people to go into battle with for the whales. I've made many life-long friends.

Secondly, there is the vast Antarctic Wilderness you get to see and spend your time defending.

I've had the pleasure of seeing Adelie penguins, Sooty albatross; Minke, Blue, Orca and Fin whales; Leopard, Crabeater and weddell seals. Brilliant Blue and white ice; from small growlers to ice bergs kilometers long.

All the hardships and sacrifice of personal time is worth it when you get the results we get. We've saved hundreds of whales in the last few years. That makes it all worth while.

I'd like to end with this.

I've been to ports all over North America and Europe with the Sea Shepherds, and I can say that we've recieved the most support from Australians.

In the United States we were eating food from dumpsters and collecting scrap metal off the docks to keep our ship together.

In Canada, our welcome is much less warm--we get boarded and arrested by armed police and have our ship confiscated for taking pictures of the seal slaughter without a permit.

but in Australia, we've recieved so many donations of money, food, medical supplies,
volunteer labour, and materials. We eat like kings and we're treated like royalty here.

Thanks to you, our ship has everything we need to stop the whale killers in the Southern Ocean this year.

On behalf of the crew I want to thank you for your generous support.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Raising Funds to get to Australia

I was talking with a friend of mine who lives across the street. I told him I was returning to Australia to join the Sea Shepherd ship Steve Irwin. We're going to travel to the waters off Antarctica to stop illegal whaling by physically intervening. This will be my fourth trip to the Antarctic with the Sea Shepherds. I usually spend about three and a half months away from home, and it's all volunteer.

He was surprised that I was able to save enough money to go away. I admitted that I usually go into debt and work it off the next year. After a few days he came up with the idea of a fundraiser.

After only a few days he was able to get a location--the Lo Pub on Ellice and a date set-- the 22nd of November. There's going to be live music and door prizes. I'm liking the idea of a pirate theme.

I invite you all to come to the fundraiser, but if you can't attend and still want to help me pay for my trip then please click the Paypal button below.


David Nickarz