The Changing of our Colors
Commentary by Captain Paul Watson
Our “black ships” have served their purpose. Since 2002, our ships have been painted black with the objective of driving the Japanese whaling fleet from the waters of the Southern Ocean Whale Sanctuary.
The color black served four purposes for the Sea Shepherd fleet. First, it’s an intimidating color, and up against the superior number of ships in the whaling fleet, I felt we should be as intimidating as possible. The black ships, coupled with our own Jolly Roger, lent an air of intimidation. Secondly, the color black absorbs heat and this helped conserve energy in an environment with 24-hour sunlight, but a close to zero degrees climate.
Added to intimidation and keeping warm, we had a third factor…the black ships have long been a part of Japanese culture signifying change. In Japan, the term “black ships” has a specific meaning. First, with the black fleet of the Portuguese that brought Catholicism and Western trade to Japan, and then with the black fleet led by American Admiral Matthew Perry, that brought Japan out of centuries of isolationism in 1854. Our objective was to stop Japan from whaling, and we succeeded. We drove the Japanese whalers from the Antarctic waters…hopefully for good. If they return, we will return, but the prospect is very good that they will not.
Our fourth factor was to symbolize mourning for the death of so many whales due to Japanese harpoons in the Southern Ocean Whale Sanctuary.
Meanwhile we have other challenges to deal with including shark finning, tuna poaching, and the slaughter of seals, sea turtles, and small cetaceans. And with campaigns before us in the Mediterranean, Palau, Galapagos, and across the Indian Ocean, Equatorial Africa, and the South Pacific, the color black is not the most comfortable. We now need to reflect heat instead of absorbing it.
And so we are returning to a color scheme we utilized back in 2002 during our anti-poaching campaigns off Cocos, Malpelo, and the Galapagos Islands. The Steve Irwin has now been repainted, with the Bob Barker in process, in marine tropical and semi-tropical camo giving our ships a somewhat military appearance, so that we can continue to be intimidating but the lighter colors will make the interior of the ships much cooler.
The Gojira will be painted metallic silver, for reasons we will reveal in late May when we will announce a name change to the ship. It’s a great name, Gojira, Japanese for Godzilla, meaning Gorilla whale, BUT the only thing scarier than Godzilla itself is Godzilla’s lawyers and we have been told that we do not have the rights to use the name.
Not a problem! We still had the opportunity to unleash Godzilla on the Japanese whalers and that was super cool especially when the whalers issued a distress signal from the Southern Ocean saying, “We are being attacked by Gojira (Godzilla).” That one radio broadcast was priceless, followed up with our playing of “Black Samurai” by Alpha Blondy over the radio back to the Japanese fleet. We thought it was hilarious, but the whalers did not seem to have much of a sense of humor that we could tell.
The new name and logo for our fast interceptor scout vessel will be unveiled next month during the Cannes Film Festival, just before we launch Operation Blue Rage II to oppose the bluefin tuna poachers.
Although we will be keeping our black and white shirts and jackets, the crew will also wear the camo uniform look as well. And speaking of colors, the Sea Shepherd ships will continue to fly the tricolored flag of the Netherlands, in addition to the Aboriginal flag of Australia and the Maori flag of Aotearoa. Also, our ships are the only ones in the world that fly the flag of the Five Nations of the Iroquois Confederacy, presented to us by the women of the Long House Up the Hill of the Mohawks of Kahnawake. We will also fly the flag of Palau on the Bob Barker during our anti-poaching patrols in the waters of the Republic of Palau.
New campaigns, new ideas, new strategies, new tactics, and new colors. Sea Shepherd Conservation Society is constantly evolving and changing to address the changing issues and problems threatening our oceans.
Never stagnant always evolving in a campaign to champion life over death, compassion over greed, and conservation over destruction.