This morning, two of Bermuda's newspapers, the Bermuda Sun and the Royal Gazette, published articles about Sea Shepherd Conservation Society and the arrival of our vessel the Farley Mowat.
The Bermuda Sun story was on the front page with the headline "We're Watching - Controversial green group sails into Bermuda and has its eye on the dolphin row." The story continues on Page 7 with the heading "Environmentalists eye the dolphin issue."
The Royal Gazette Story is on page 13 with the heading "Greenpeace co-founder sails into local waters."
Excerpts from Bermuda Sun Story by Meredith Erbin:
The fight to prevent the construction of a dolphin park at the old Sonesta Beach hotel took on international significance when the conservation ship Farley Mowat tied up at Penno's Wharf, St.George's yesterday.
Mr. Watson said the Society was aware of the plan to build a dolphin park, but did not expect to get involved, because it is unlikely to be approved.
"Bermuda has some very good laws with regard to dredging," he said.
He said, "The law here is on the side of the dolphins. I am very confident they won't get their permit."
The development Applications Board heard the application to build a dolphin park on Wednesday and its decision will be made public next week. The plan, submitted by Martin and Lynn Hassell, has been opposed by environmentalists because it calls for the dredging of Sinky Bay. Technical officers from the Department of Planning recommended the plan be refused.
Mrs. Hassell is believed to have run a dolphin park in Antigua, and according to Mr. Watson, it left the area a "total ruination."
Meanwhile Lisa Vickers, who led the opposition to the dolphin park, said she had no idea why the ship was in Bermuda. Ms Vickers, a member of the international environmental organization Greenpeace, said she plans to meet with Mr. Watson.
While she welcomed support from the Society, and said it had "brilliant causes," she added, "I am not a member, I don't necessarily agree with everything they do."
The Society has been called eco-terrorists because of their tactics, which include ramming ships engaged in activities they oppose.
Mr. Watson pointed out that the Society is a U.S. charity.
"We have been called a lot of things. We look on ourselves as good pirates in pursuit of bad pirates," he said.
Excerpts from the Royal Gazette written by Sarah Titterton:
Dolphin parks beware - the pirate dubbed "the world's most experienced rammer of vessels" could be joining in the battle to prevent Dolphin Oasis from opening.
With such a fearsome reputation behind him, the Captain was refreshingly confident about Bermuda's environmental legislation.
Sea Shepherd may be writing a letter to Government protesting against the opening of Bermuda's second dolphin swim park, Dolphin Oasis, he said, joining the dozens of other international groups voicing their dissent against the plan.
"However, I'm pretty certain the application will be rejected," he said, "either that, or the Environment Minister will stop it."
"Bermuda has 'strong' laws regulating dredging," he said. "You have an interest in protecting the environment here. Tourism goes along way towards protecting the environment."
Sea Shepherd is against any kind of programme where marine mammals are kept in captivity, he said - and programmes where humans come into contact with the animals in particular.
Though it was rumoured that Sea Shepherd is in Bermuda to specifically target this issue, Capt. Watson laid that tale to rest.
The group is actually on the island to regroup and put everything in ship-shape order before launching their next campaign - saving 350,000 seals from being murdered at the hands of Canadians in the Gulf of St. Lawrence.