For all the talk about how Sea Shepherd endangers life and limb of whalers, sealers, poachers, and even supposedly our own crew, the fact is that in 33 years of operations not a single Sea Shepherd crewmember has been killed or seriously injured. This covers more than 250 voyages and confrontations on the high seas in some of the most remote and hostile waters in the world. Nor has any Sea Shepherd action ever caused a single injury, let alone a fatality to those we obstruct, harass, and prevent from continuing their illegal acts of exploitation.
The Greenpeace Foundation is always accusing Sea Shepherd of being violent and irresponsible, yet Greenpeace has had at least two deaths at sea, numerous injuries, and they have had numerous crew convicted of felony crimes.
Not one Sea Shepherd crewmember has been convicted of a felony anywhere in the world.
Another Sea Shepherd critic is Sea World, whose enslavement of Orca whales and dolphins has generated hundreds of millions of dollars in profits.
And now, once again a Sea World captive - Tilikum - has killed his third human being.
I can't really blame Tilikum. If I was taken from the ocean and plopped into a concrete prison cell for four decades I would be inclined to get a mite angry also.
No reasonable person would walk unescorted across the exercise yard of a maximum-security prison, and it is irresponsible to expect a frail human being to turn his or her back on a stressed-out, angry, captive orca - the most formidable predator on the planet.
By the way, I've met Tilikum. Way back in the 80's, I toured SeaLand of the Pacific as a special guest of Bob Wright, the owner of the facility. He wanted me to see first hand what his business was all about. I sat by the pool and patted the big Orca on the head. I also put my hand in his mouth and put my palm on his tongue so he could taste that I was not afraid of him. I remember looking into the left eye of that magnificent predator, and what I saw there was resignation and sadness. He was not a happy whale.
I knew then as I know now that Tilikum should not be, and does not belong in a swimming pool.
I think that Sea World has only one honorable option. They should return Tilikum to his home in the sea. His pod can be identified and Sea World has the funds, the skills, and the technology to do the right thing both for the Orca and for the interest of humanity.
If Sea World does not return Tilikum to the sea then the next time a human being dies as a victim to an angry, frustrated, stressed, and possibly insane Orca, it will not be simply another tragedy: it will be willful negligence!