"It is a wonderful honour," said Captain Watson. "Steve was one of the greatest wildlife ambassadors and educators we had. He inspired a generation of children and left a lasting legacy. He also illustrated how one person can really make a difference. He was that perfect combination of charisma, courage, intelligence, imagination, and vision topped off with an astute sense of drama and showmanship."
If Steve had lived he would have joined the Sea Shepherd crew.
The Courier Mail in Australia reported last week that according to Terri Irwin, Steve wanted to design a huge can-opener to take on Japanese whaling boats in a bid to save the humpbacks.
From the Courier Mail:
Terri Irwin said if her husband was alive he would probably have joined the aggressive anti-whaling crusade in the Southern Ocean in a heartbeat and had talked about it often before he was fatally stabbed by a stingray barb in 2006.
"He (Steve) was like, 'I'm going to show Paul (Sea Shepherd captain Paul Watson) how to design a can-opener and we're going to stop these ships.
"He even wanted Croc One (Australia Zoo's own research vessel) to have an ice-breaking hull.
"He didn't actually go that far, but he wanted to join Paul and he wanted John (Stainton) to film it and John was just sweating bullets. Terri told The Courier-Mail.
"John managed to keep distracting him with other projects, but I really think that he would, at some point, have joined in on it (the anti-whaling campaign) and he would have been very clever.
"He was a great strategist and very tactical with his ability. He had so much bush sense he would have been a great asset. It's not something that eventuated but it was certainly on the cards."
On her return from Alaskan waters where she tagged humpback whales for non-lethal research, Mrs Irwin said she wholeheartedly backed a repeat this year of the uncompromising tactics by the Sea Shepherd conservation group as it tried stop Japanese whaling in the Southern Ocean.
Describing Captain Watson as "a legend", Mrs. Irwin said that while his confrontationist approach might not always be popular, it was effective.
"I think he's just outstanding in what he does with that warrior mindset he has protecting whales. It's very heroic and very necessary as well. It's not hurting people and it is stopping whales from being killed," she said.
Mrs. Irwin said Captain Watson, who was honoured with an inaugural Steve Irwin Wildlife Warrior Award this year, would open next week's second Steve Irwin Day celebrations at Australia Zoo on November 15.
The zoo's Wildlife Warriors foundation has set aside $500,000 for non-lethal whale research.