Alex Cornelissen, Captain (Netherlands) - This year marks the tenth year I have been with Sea Shepherd. What started out as a sabbatical turned into a life changing experience and a life long commitment to change the critical state of our world's oceans. My first five years were spent, non-stop, on the Farley Mowat, our flagship at the time. I participated in every single campaign from 2002 to 2007. When I was given the opportunity to work for Sea Shepherd in the Galapagos, I left the ship and became an islander. I have been given the privilege to help protect one of the most unique places in the world. This is my fifth Antarctica campaign and my 20th Sea Shepherd campaign, not including the four years I have been working on Sea Shepherd's permanent campaign in the Galapagos.
Poaching, corruption, short-term (and short-sighted) profit, and a general worldwide lack of interest are systematically wiping out all aquatic life. Governments turn a blind eye to the obviously apparent problems. Industrial fishing fleets are using government subsidies to further decimate what little life remains. Shark finning is out of control, now more than ever. Marine mammals continue to be slaughtered without reason- in violation of international law. Numerous species are driven towards extinction in humanity’s quest to empty the oceans. Despite all of this, there are but a few who really know the truth and yet fewer who even care.
Sea Shepherd gives me the opportunity to voice my concern and to do something about these problems. More and more people are becoming aware of the dire state of our oceans as we continue to open their eyes. At the same time we are getting more support for our actions against the criminals who destroy the oceans. I am proud to be part of the only organization that actually goes out onto the seven seas to stop illegal activity. The battle to safe life in our oceans is intensifying. If we want to survive as a species on this planet, now is the time to stand up and act. I, for on,e am not going to passively wait until it's too late.
Alexis "Lex" Rigby, Deckhand (United Kingdom) - Before joining the Bob Barker crew I was volunteering onshore in the United Kingdom coordinating events in North England. I submitted my crew application after demonstrating at the most recent IWC meeting in Jersey. Feeling frustrated with how the proceedings were dragged out, and not being given the opportunity to address accusations directed at Sea Shepherd; I wanted to take a more direct approach to ending this outdated, barbaric slaughter.
Back home I work as an academic librarian – something quite different to life as a deckhand. I’m enjoying learning about the ship and life at sea whilst getting to grips with power tools and launching the small boats. When in port there’s nothing more satisfying than smashing the largest chunk of rust you’ve ever seen off of a deck head, you know?
As an ethical vegan, I fight for the right to life of all species and stand up for ideals that I truly believe in. We’ve been so successful in our destruction of the world’s oceans that it scares me to think that there’s no way back. The future of the planet, and life upon it, depends on how we act now. If we fail in preserving our great whales, how can we even begin to rally for the little guys?
Alistair Allan, Deckhand/Small Boat Crew (Australia) - I joined Sea Shepherd because it is one of the only organisations in the world that is saving lives and the ocean. Growing up on the coast of Queensland, in a town called Hervey Bay, I fell in love with the ocean and the whales that visit between July – November. Working on whale watch vessels and getting to know these amazing creatures as well as getting into animal rights through the hardcore music scene I very quickly developed a passion to save lives and see animals in their natural and wild habitats.
The rate that humanity is destroying the oceans and the unbelievable cruelty that we place on animals such as dolphins and orcas in captivity is truly horrifying. Now more than ever I am honored to be part of Sea Shepherd and look forward to a future where our oceans are protected and animals are free. Be the change you wish to see in the world, GO VEGAN.
Amber Paarman, Cook (South Africa) - I am Amber Paarman, a passionate activist and a veteran of Sea Shepherd's Antarctic Campaigns. I am originally from South Africa, but now I live in Stockholm, Sweden. My current position with Sea Shepherd is as a cook on the Bob Barker. I enjoy working in the galley for two main reasons; firstly, I have always had a passion for teaching people about the nutritional and ethical benefits of a vegan diet and secondly, working in the galley is a very hands-on job that has very tangible results. My love of hands on work with tangible results is also why I am a returning veteran to Sea Shepherd's Antarctica Campaign. I strongly believe that it is not enough to just believe in a cause, but that you must act on those beliefs if you want to see that change in the world. My mission is to reduce as much suffering as possible in this world and to save lives. Every life saved is a victory.
Andrea Gordon, Ship Manager (United States) - Growing up in Atlanta, my passion for protecting animals first began on land. While working with Sea Shepherd in 2005 to save baby harp seals, I developed a profound desire to preserve marine life.
Driven by a desire to save lives, whether whales, seals, or humans, I am devoted to helping others. Besides working with Sea Shepherd, I saved lives in a different capacity: in the courtroom. I spent four years as a public defender in New York City providing help to those who could not afford a lawyer.
I returned full-time to Sea Shepherd in 2009 to continue protecting life on Earth – from the Galapagos Islands to the whales in Antarctica. I believe that everyone can make this planet a better place every day!
Ben "Pottsy" Potts, Bosun (Australia) - I'm sick to death of living in a society which is so engrossed in the trivial and obsessed with the individual, that in its quest for unlimited wealth and convenience is sacrificing the future of not only its own children but of all life on this planet. We are not separate from the natural world. We don't own the land, the animals, plants or other people. Life is not a commodity. When we murder, rape, poison and pillage our planet we do so to ourselves. Time is short for those facing extinction, and I implore you to stop what you are doing and act in the defense of the planet.
Carolina Castro, Ship's Photographer (Brazil) - In the summer of 2001 I was looking to do environmental work so I joined the Sea Shepherd crew to protect sharks in the Galapagos and Cocos Islands, and turtles in the Caribbean.
More recently, I have been actively writing and photographing for environmental causes, mainly in Brazil, my home country. Being at sea for most of my adult life, protecting the oceans comes naturally to me. I believe in a biocentric view of the world, which means that all species of animals and plants have the same value as human beings in contrast to the most commonly held belief that human life is more valuable than other living things.
There is a mass extinction happening under our watch. It is time to stand up and take action towards a more balanced way of living where we don't take so much from the natural world. We can all do so through our daily and life-long choices.
If the Oceans die, we die.
Chantelle "Chilli" Derez, Bosun's Mate (Australia) - My name is Chantelle Derez but on the Bob Barker I am known as ‘Chilli’. My role on board is Rescue Swimmer, Primary Diver, and Bosun’s Mate. This means if someone goes over board, it is my job to bring them back. If we need to check out the boat from under the water I get the lucky job and I report to the Bosun. I have a Bachelor Degree with Honors in Wildlife Research, worked as a Divemaster on the Great Barrier Reef, chased Great White Sharks in South Australia/South Africa, and gained my Coxswain License. Working on the Great Barrier Reef and Coral Sea allowed me to see another world with animals such as Dolphins, Whales, and various Sharks- including Hammerheads.
I first heard about Sea Shepherd from the movie Sharkwater, which instantly struck home. The destruction of these beautiful creatures is heartbreaking especially as many animals have a bad reputation or feared for no reason, simply because we do not understand them and instead they are killed in huge numbers every year. When Sharkwater came out, it was around the time migrating Minke Whales would make their way to Queensland and as they are so curious they would swim around the boat I was working on. One day I had nine whales swim around me when I was in the water, however this was a huge decline in the number of whales to visit the boat, compared to previous years. That was when I decided I needed to do whatever I could to protect these creatures and joining Sea Shepherd would be the best way for me to do this. As an Australian, I have huge respect and awe for migrating whales that choose to visit the coastline of Australia and recently had the privilege of seeing a pure white whale calf with its mother. Our country relies on these animals for tourism but they should command respect and protection regardless of economy. Extinction of a species is a lifestyle choice, even if we just sit by and watch it happen. That is something I cannot do.
This is my first campaign with Sea Shepherd and it has taken me five years to get here. I do dream that we are able to shut down the whaling with a ‘no kill’ season and I also hope my rescue skills will not be needed.
Bio to come
Emmerich "Emmo" Reize, Communications Officer (Germany) - I worked at the School for Applied Science Schwäbisch Gmünd /Germany for 6 years as IT Administrator. While working in the not too environmental friendly IT business I more and more felt the need to dedicate my knowledge and manpower to conservation work.
I crewed with Sea Shepherd because it is the only conservation group that takes nonviolent direct action on the high seas. To me direct action is the only way to change something in a time where money is more important than life, health, and biodiversity.
John Ellam, Engineer (United Kingdom) - I first heard about Sea Shepherd a few years ago whilst working as a yacht engineer. After reading up on past campaigns, I decided that I would like to help out.
So here I am, down in Antarctica doing my part, very much enjoying the work and of course the scenery. Our critics could accuse us of being too in love with whales, but if whales were giant floating cockroaches would we care? The answer is of course we would. The slow eradication of a species will affect those around it and ultimately, over time, this will affect all of us.
Kevin Diplo, Chief Engineer (Ivory Coast) - I am marine chief engineer unlimited motor ship. Coming from Ivory Coast, West Africa. I've spent the last 14 years of my life on merchant shipping industry, sailing all around the world.
I am a vegetarian and i am passionate about marine ecology. I got to know Sea Shepherd Conservation Society thanks to the Thalassa's documentary on TV.
I have been strongly impressed by the courage of those heroes who fight, putting their lives in danger, against the modern poachers of the ocean. I put the question to myself and decided to join Sea Shepherd, because their cause is noble & fair…
Leon "Sparks" Brown, Ship's Welder (Australia) - Hi there my name is Leon Brown. I’m a 21-year-old welder from Perth, Western Australia. During my childhood I learnt about the importance of sustainable living from my parents, growing the majority of our own fruit and vegetables, and how our actions impact the planet. For the last seven years I’ve been working as a boilermaker welder in heavy construction and mining projects in Australia and around the globe. I started to get disillusioned with the damaging effects of the industry and the lengths companies go to, to cover the destructive nature of their greed and instead wanted to use my skills for something more positive.
I first heard about Sea Shepherd through the media many years ago and was inspired by the actions of a few to save many. I came to Sea Shepherd initially for a couple of weeks to help out on various welding projects and to see what the organization is truly about. I have been onboard ever since. During my time on the Bob Barker I have seen that Sea Shepherd are an effective conservation group that protects and serves this wonderful planet of ours and I am proud to be a part of it.
Marley Daviduk, Deckhand (Canada) - I have been a vegan animal rights activist for 12 years now. Back home in Vancouver my friends and I organize campaigns against fur, foie gras, vivisection, shark fins, and the Canadian seal slaughter. For the past 6 years I have been rehabilitating and caring for rescued farm animals on my family’s farm sanctuary. I first learned about Sea Shepherd 10 years ago while protesting the annual Canadian seal slaughter and my bloodthirsty government. This year I sold my truck and my business as a Farrier so I could travel to Japan as a Cove Guardian in March and September to document the dolphin and porpoise slaughter.
I am so proud to be part of an organization that is not only saving the lives of marine animals through direct action, but also taking a stand on veganism with a strictly vegan galley. A chicken has the capacity to experience the same pain and suffering as a dolphin or a whale, and the animal agriculture industry is poisoning the land and sea. I truly believe that the most basic action anyone can take against animal cruelty or to save the oceans is to eat a plant based diet.
This years campaign is particularly meaningful to me after the Japanese government gave the whaling fleet 28 million dollars out of Tsunami relief funds for security. While investigating the Dall's Porpoise slaughter in Otsuchi, Japan this March, my friends and I experienced the earthquake and tsunami firsthand. After missing the wave by less than a minute we watched helplessly as the entire town of Otsuchi was washed out to sea with almost 75% of their human population perishing. Almost a year later, the town of Otsuchi is still a pile of bulldozed ruins. How dare the Japanese government spend that money on an illegal whaling fleet when many people are still without a place to live after the devastating natural disaster?
It's heartless actions like this that motivate me to take action against the Japanese government and whaling fleet with ZERO regard for life of any kind.
Matt Brown, Medical Officer (New Zealand) - I am 34 years old and this is my first campaign with Sea Shepherd. I have been practicing medicine for seven years, specializing in Emergency Medicine and Intensive Care, with an interest in remote, transport, and expedition medicine. I have donated to Sea Shepherd for five years and I consider it a great privilege to use my training in support of such a cause.
Michael "Beaz" Beasley, Deckhand/Designer (Australia) - Unable to stand idly by and watch as the natural world around me was being destroyed, I chose to dedicate my life to protecting our planet and ending the unnecessary suffering of all living beings.
Inspired by the effectiveness of Sea Shepherd's non-violent, direct action and adoption of vegan ideology, I began my time with the organisation as an onshore volunteer in Melbourne where I'm still actively involved in shark conservation work. I left my job working on a passenger/freight ship to join the M/Y Bob Barker as a deckhand/designer in March 2010. Since that time, my belief in the organisation and the need for urgent marine conservation measures has grown dramatically.
Through Sea Shepherd, I've helped rid Australian beaches and waterways of pollution. I've pulled up illegal long lines set in one of the most remote and pristine places on Earth. I've confronted whalers and am proud to have played a part in shutting down their illegal operations in the Southern Ocean Whale Sanctuary during the 2010-2011 season. I aim to ensure every action that I take is driven by compassion. It is my firm belief that determined individuals can, and must, make a difference if we are to survive on this planet. Non-action is far more dangerous than anything we will come up against in Antarctica.
Michael May, Quartermaster (New Zealand) - I am from a small tourist town in the Bay of Islands, New Zealand. We have a lot of whaling gear that we collected over the years. They are relics from when our waters ran red with the warm blood of whales. Something I refuse to let happen anywhere in the world! My town is now without whales. Whales are my passion. I have to travel overseas to work with the Humpback whales, as my towns’ population no longer exists.
I went to high school in the northern most city in New Zealand, Whanagrei. There I felt removed from the coastline and felt like something was missing. One day my friend told me there was pod of pilot whales beaching themselves. We both fled school and went straight for the whales we knew the consequences of leaving school would come back on us but we looked at it as "This is a life or many lives we can save compared with 3 hours of school remaining." I think I learnt more about Pilot whales that day then I would have learned at school. I wanted to do more.
I heard Paul Watson talk one day. He said to the crowd how our oceans were dying and how important they were. He said, "It is not the governments or the big organisations that will change the world, it’s the passion of individuals."
Paul has provided a place where I can put my passion into use. Sea Shepherd is made up from all these amazing passionate people. I have never seen so much determination and passion before. This is why I am here down in Antarctica because I care and I hope you who read this will too. Just try it. Dip your toes in the waters and look past the surface, look what we are doing to this amazing environment.
Patrick O'Neil, Engineer (Australia) - I joined the Bob Barker in April 2010 when I heard that some major electrical work needed to be done on the ship while it was in Hobart. Before joining Sea Shepherd and the crew of the Bob Barker I was working as an Electrician but wasn't happy using my trade to further the destruction of the planet. So I joined Sea Shepherd Conservation Society to use my skill for a good cause. Since then the ship has been transformed into a powerful direct action tool. In the process I've learned a lot about Ship Engineering and Electrics.
When I joined the ship I wasn't fully aware of the state of the oceans but after only a few weeks on board I started to understand the extent to which humans have destroyed marine ecosystems and wildlife. All life on this planet is intrinsically connected and if one component is made extinct then collapse is inevitable. This knowledge drove me to dedicate my time to Sea Shepherd and save what's left of the natural planet for future generations. Can you imagine having to tell your kids that there were once spectacular whales in the oceans but they will never get to see them because they are gone forever?
Peter Hammarstedt, First Officer (Sweden) - Born in Sweden and raised in the United Kingdom, Peter joined Sea Shepherd Conservation Society as soon as he was old enough to submit an application.
A fervent advocate for the rights of animals, Peter believes that in their capacity to suffer, animals are our equals. From the foreboding Labrador Coast to the treacherous Antarctic Continent. Peter has sailed the seven seas trying to put those words into action. He has saved as many lives as he can from illegal whaling, sealing, and destructive fishing practices.
Philip Paul Peterson, Jr., Coxswain/Carpenter (United States) - I am 53 years old and am from Cape Cod in the USA. I have been on the Ocean my whole life and have always appreciated it and it's inhabitants.
I first heard of Sea Shepherd about the same time Whale Wars debuted on Animal Planet. I thought this was a great way to give back to the oceans and the planet, and to make a difference. I joined Sea Shepherd shortly there after, and applied to become a crewmember. I come to the Bob Barker with a variety of skills including but not limited to Ships Carpenter, Boat mechanic, and driver. I have also been the ships photographer and worked with the deck crew while in port. I am passionate about the mission statement Sea Shepherd has adopted and will willingly do whatever it takes to stop the illegal practices upon our oceans and wildlife sanctuaries. I feel honored to be a crewmember aboard the MV Bob Barker and thank those that have allowed me to be a part of history in the war to stop illegal whaling as well as any other activity we may be faced with in the future.
Rafaella Tolicetti, Cook (Italy) - I joined Sea Shepherd in July 2010 on board of the Steve Irwin. Since then I have done three campaigns with the Steve, and this year I had the chance to join the Bob Barker for the Operation Divine Wind, as a head cook in the galley. Before joining, I studied political science in Rome, Italy. On board the ships the food is vegan, as we believe that it is the most ethical and environmental choice. There are many ways to make a difference, and direct action combined with a conscious diet are certainly among the most important to me.
Sam Sielen, Ship Photographer/Plumber (United States) - I was born and raised in Milwaukee, WI, where I developed a strong desire to help protect this planet at an early age. I volunteered in schools, at the local bicycle cooperatives, built latrines in the Dominican Republic, campaigned with the League of Conservation voters, and partook in river, park, and beach cleanups in Milwaukee and NYC.
Earning a Bachelors of Fine Arts in Film, I have produced various short films advocating bicycling, activism, and respect for nature. I moved from Milwaukee to Brooklyn on my bicycle riding over one thousand miles through some of the US's most extreme environments - from fields of oil refineries to the snowy mountaintops of the Appalachians - all of which reinforced my yearning to protect this delicate balance we call Earth. Practicing veganism in both diet and lifestyle for over five years, I have come to learn just how important of a choice this is to better the health of this planet.
While living in New York I first worked for my sister and brother-in-law's plumbing business, and then later for the District Attorney's office in Manhattan as a media specialist in the Visual Evidence Unit. Both of these jobs have given me skills that I have utilized nearly every day since coming to the Bob Barker in June of 2010. My primary roles aboard the Bob are photographer and plumber, though I also produce videos for the SSCS website and lend a hand whenever it is needed.
Sarah Ahee, Deckhand (United States) - Before joining Sea Shepherd I was a college student studying forensic psychology. I worked as a nanny and was an on-shore volunteer in my hometown in California. While working as a nanny I took every opportunity to teach kids the importance of treating this planet with respect, including every life it holds. Educating our future generations should be our priority. No child should be raised in a world where whales no longer exist.
I joined Sea Shepherd because I felt a huge sense of responsibility to put an end to the destruction of our oceans. The fact that we as human beings are capable of sending a species to extinction is absolutely unforgiveable. In order to start the process of saving our oceans we have to look beyond ourselves. We need to acknowledge our faults and correct our errors. We need to hold ourselves accountable for the damage we have caused. I feel honored to be a part of an organization that is actually doing what it takes to put an end to the annihilation of our marine life. Being a Sea Shepherd crewmember is a dream come true.
Vince Burke, Second Officer (Australia) - Having spent the last 30 years involved with Victorian forest habitat conservation, I have now turned my efforts to the oceans.
This is the third year I have sailed to Antarctica with Sea Shepherd determined to end illegal whaling and I will not rest until the last harpoon vessel is driven out of the Southern Ocean. For me a comfortable life in my workshop restoring violins is not an option when the destruction of our natural world is imminent, my life would mean little if I did not pursue those who put monetary profit before the environment...I fear this crucial work will continue long into the future.