An Evening for the Whales
August 4, 2006
Melbourne welcomed the Farley Mowat home with an incredible turnout at the Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology (RMIT) for "An Evening for the Whales". It was almost eight months ago that Sea Shepherd held a function at RMIT, shortly before departing for Antarctica. Now, an eager crowd of close to one hundred Melbournians lined up outside the door to hear stories from the successful Antarctic Whale Defense Campaign, where the Japanese were prevented from whaling for fifteen days. Many had come to see exclusive footage of the Farley Mowat ordering the illegal whaling supply vessel Oriental Bluebird of the Antarctic Whale Sanctuary with a high seas ramming.
Ships' Liaison Peter Hammarstedt introduced the evening, inviting local philanthropist and Melbourne merchant banker Philip Wollen to say a few words to Sea Shepherd's Australian Supporters. Catching everyone by surprise, Philip Wollen, a long-time friend of Sea Shepherd, presented Captain Alex Cornelissen with a generous check towards the purchase of a faster vessel. He urged other Melbourne businessmen to follow in his footsteps and do what they can to keep the Farley Mowat steaming ahead.
After showing a documentary from the award-winning South African program 50/50 on the latest Antarctic Whale Defense Campaign, Captain Cornelissen delivered a passionate treatise on the plight of the world's oceans. Speaking from his personal experiences, Captain Cornelissen stressed the importance of returning to Antarctica at the end of the year. He underlined the fact that not only has Japan doubled their illegal quota of minke whales to just under a thousand, but they are also planning on taking fifty endangered fin whales and fifty endangered humpback whales beginning next year. Captain Cornelissen likened the slaughter to a criminal operation no different than drug trafficking or ivory smuggling, reaffirming the important role that Sea Shepherd has in upholding international conservation law.
An extensive question and answer period followed Captain Cornelissen's speech. One attendee urged the public to visit the ship at Berth 15 in Victoria Harbor and bring by donations of vegan food and supplies. Another member of the public was eager to organize onshore protests to support the Sea Shepherd crew when they are out on the high seas doing the job that the world's governments refuse to do.
Australia showed once again that ninety-nine percent of its population wants to see an immediate end to whaling. Seeing such tremendous support was an incredible morale boost for the crew of the Sea Shepherd flagship who have up until recently, spent many weeks at sea and many months in detention in Cape Town, South Africa. It is with one-hundred percent certainty that "An Evening for the Whales" will be but one of many successful fundraisers in the months leading up to the most important, dangerous, and expensive campaign in Sea Shepherd's history.
Peter Hammarstedt - Ships' Liaison Officer