Capt. Paul Watson is highly regarded as a hero of the ocean, a man who has dedicated his life to preserving our oceans through protection, education and conservation. He established the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society in 1977 as an international non-profit wildlife conservation organization.
Before that Watson was one of the founders of the Greenpeace Foundation, in fact he was the eighth member. He began his involvement in 1969, but in 1977 he left to pursue his own goals in conserving and preserving the oceans of the world.
So in that year the Sea Shepard Conservation Society was born, dedicated to marine protection by way of research, investigation, and the enforcement of laws and treaties. Watson sat down with IBTimesTV to discuss the obstacles he has faced through the years, but shared hope that one day the slaughter of the animals of the sea will end.
The mass slaughter of dolphins and whales is of paramount concern to the organization: Some 20,000 of these creatures are slaughtered every year by Japanese boats. Watson described what it is like to see this sort of “inhumane” behavior in person, and the challenges we the world face in stopping the massacres that occur in places like "Bloody Cove."
The media play a huge role in raising awareness, says Watson. But the lack of knowledge is not his biggest challenge, rather the government of Japan which refuses to take responsibility for its actions. Watson describes that it is his job to simply be there a lot of the time and make him and his volunteers visible. While some volunteers have been arrested for their actions, Watson knows they are all serving something bigger than themselves, and that is protecting the oceans.
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Speaking to Watson, his passion for what he does is clear. He firmly believes that without oceans humans could simply not survive. Whales, dolphins, and seals are being slaughtered every single day, and while people like Watson and the Sea Shepherd Conservation society are making progress in protecting these animals, it has not stopped.
Through the years Watson has seen some horrific things. Unimaginable displays of cruelty and torture, from seeing a seal cub being skinned alive, to animals being beaten to death by hand. This sort of brutality is something that requires a thick skin to see first-hand. Watson describes how he has almost become like a “surgeon” and created a sort of detachment from the heinous things he has had to witness over his 36 years with Sea Shepherd.
But poaching is just one of the problems our oceans are facing. There is also the ongoing issue of plastic in the oceans. Plastic can ensnare aquatic animals and be fatally ingested. To tackle this issue Watson has created the Vortex Project to clean up the oceans, and rid them of plastic. He spoke about the project and what he and his team hope to achieve.
He left the conversation with a very powerful message: what most of us don’t understand is that the oceans are a part of our lives, we may not live in the sea, but we need it to survive. If the oceans and the animals in it are destroyed so are we. From education, conservation and protection Watson has dedicated his life to this mantra.
To see how you can help or to learn more about the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society please visit www.seasheperd.org