Passion for whales links woman to Sea Shepherd

A Bainbridge Island resident, Izumi Stephens, will join Sea Shepherd in its upcoming campaign against the Japanese whaling fleet in the Antarctic, as I describe in a story in today’s Kitsap Sun.

Izumi Stephens

A native of Japan, Izumi will serve as an on-board interpreter for the anti-whaling group. While engaging whalers, Sea Shepherd has an occasional need to converse with Japanese ship captains as well as conveying information to Japanese news reporters.

If you’ve watched “Whale Wars” on television, you know about Sea Shepherd’s highly confrontational approach to the Japanese fleet, often maneuvering its vessels into dangerous positions in front, behind and alongside the massive whaling ships.

Capt. Paul Watson, who heads Sea Shepherd, broke away from Greenpeace in 1977 as he pushed for more severe actions against whaling operations throughout the world. In 1980, “operatives” from his three-year-old organization took credit for sinking the whaling ship Sierra in Lisbon, Portugal — the first of many similar attacks.

Sea Shepherd, which operates throughout the world, has an ongoing connection to the Northwest. Its international headquarters is located in Friday Harbor in the San Juan Islands, and Watson frequently returns to this region.

I first met Watson and his crew in the early 1990s, when the ship Sea Shepherd II spent summers in Poulsbo in Kitsap County. The group was coming off an intense 1988 campaign, in which crew members scuttled two of the four ships that Icelandic whalers were operating at that time. According to Watson, charges were never filed because the Icelandic government did not want to acknowledge its approval of illegal whaling. See Sea Shepherd’s website for a history from the group’s point of view.

I also had numerous dealings with Watson and Sea Shepherd in 1998 while covering the government-approved whale hunt by the Makah Tribe in Neah Bay.

My coverage of Sea Shepherd’s activities should not be construed as a personal endorsement. I once asked readers of Water Ways if they would prefer that I write frequently about Sea Shepherd, ignore the group’s activities altogether or something in between. Based on the response, I try to update Sea Shepherd’s activities in this blog two or three times a year.

With Izumi Stephens serving on the Bob Barker until March, I hope to bring you a few more reports from her perspective. I perceive Izumi as a local person, a mild-mannered but passionate woman who is out of her element yet involved in the adventure of a lifetime.

One thought on “Passion for whales links woman to Sea Shepherd

  1. Dear cdunagan,

    Thank you for your press release/blog.

    Whales have no champion other than man. And yet man is the problem. There are those men who are ‘species centric’ and those who have risen above this philosophy. But with life in the balance and the lack of understanding by many as to the delicate balance of Nature, indeed this planet, it is an uphill battle.

    Paul Watson is a man beyond words and pretty much all action. But the truth is that the pen is mightier than the sword. It will be the idea that whales are not fish, nor food, but friends.

    You change that awareness and whales and dolphins will live. Programs like Whale Wars show the true atrocities committed against these gentle and intelligent creatures. But it is the educational ones and done in the languages of the ethnics that kill these creatures (harvest) that will forge the above idea into hardened steel armor plate. After all, these creatures have no defense against harpoons or clubs.

    Palau has made the first move. Other countries need to follow. If not man will decide his own fate as we continue to knock out other species, if only for their exotic taste.

    So if you only promote Sea Shepherd three times a year, thank you. But please keep us up to date as to the happenings around the world and where one can make his own words be heard.


    Jon Soeder

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