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Antarctica: The Last True Wilderness

Andrew Perry
Quartermaster, Steve Irwin

Andrew Perry

So here I am, once again on board the Steve Irwin in the Antarctic waters of the Southern Ocean Whale Sanctuary.  Here we all are: a mix of old and new crew, all committed, prepared, confident and competent, though some still finding their sea legs (and stomachs).

Last year, I was a Deckhand on the Boat Team (Delta Coxswain) but this year I have come on-board as a Quartermaster on the Bridge.  All up, we have 33 crew spread out over four departments on-board: Deck, Engine Room, Galley and Bridge - along with eight media from Animal Planet who document our every move for the TV documentary series “Whale Wars.”

This year I find myself a mess of mixed emotions.  Last year was my first Sea Shepherd campaign, and it followed six months of work and preparations on the ship in port.  I was with my fiancée Molly who is now my wife, and, I'm ashamed to say, had the Japanese Antarctic whaling season been cancelled that year a part of me would have been disappointed that I didn't get to come down here and engage in direct-action against the whaling fleet.

But this year I am not here because I want to be.  This year I am down here because there is a fight that needs to be fought.  And I now know this for sure.  It's happening in Australian Antarctic waters, and I as an Australian feel a particular moral compulsion and responsibility to be down here defending sovereignty, law, and the lives of these beautiful and intelligent animals and the fragile environment in which they feed, grow (as calves) and recuperate (as adults) each summer - Antarctica: the world's last pristine and true wilderness.  Particularly, as my government won't!

Also, this year I am here without my wife.  So this year I fully understand what it is to sacrifice all that you love to be here: missing your loved ones on special days such as Christmas and New Years, and for me, my first wedding anniversary, the anniversary of the day I met my wife, and her 30th birthday.  Happy anniversaries and birthday, my love.  And with this comes a whole new respect for the veteran crew who do year after year of Sea Shepherd campaigns; some for ten, even twenty years.  And of course for Captain Paul Watson who has been doing this selfless and somewhat lonely work his whole life.

So please follow this blog and allow us to give you an insider's look into life aboard the Steve Irwin, why we do the things we do, and why they need to be done.



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