Former Sea Shepherd Crewmember Ben White Battles Cancer
Benjamin White goes way back with Sea Shepherd Conservation Society. He jumped onboard the Sea Shepherd II for the first time in 1981 in Alexandria, Virginia ,and stayed on through the Panama Canal and up to the Bering Sea where he participated in the Sea Shepherd invasion on the beaches of Soviet Siberia to get evidence of illegal whaling activity. He served on the crew as the bosun.
In 1983, Ben was on board the Sea Shepherd II again as Bosun. This time to blockade the harbour at St. John's, Newfoundland, to prevent the Canadian sealing fleet from leaving. The ship then moved on to the Gulf of St. Lawrence, and Ben was at the helm as the Sea Shepherd II did a high speed pass by two sealing ships, bouncing them about so badly in the icy water that the sealers fled for port.
The next night, Ben joined Captain Paul Watson, Engineer Paul Pezwick, and Deckhand Bernard Carlais in a thirteen-mile trek over broken ice floes to the shore of Cape Breton Island. Their plan was to get ashore and steal the Sea Shepherd II back because they knew the ship would be stormed, boarded, and arrested the next morning.
It was a valiant but unsuccessful strategy.
All twenty crew, (sixteen on the ship plus the four who made the attempt for shore), were flown by special military transport to a special prison in Quebec to await a bail hearing.
Later in 1983, at a trial in Perce, Quebec, Ben found himself convicted of breaking the "Seal Protection Act" for approaching closer than a half a nautical mile to a seal for the purpose of protecting a seal. The charges were later overturned by the Quebec Court of Appeal.
Ben had joined the ship in Grenada in February 1982 just prior to the voyage to the ice. It was there that he participated in a Sea Shepherd raid on the Grenada Zoo to release abused monkeys. The monkeys were released into the Grenadian jungle where they still continue to survive.
Ben was back onboard in 1985 when the Sea Shepherd II sailed from Nova Scotia to Iceland where he was instrumental in helping to map out the area where the whaling ships were berthed. His help was used to great advantage by Rod Coronado and David Howitt when they successfully scuttled half the Icelandic whaling fleet and destroyed the whale meat processing plant in November 1986.
Ben sailed on from Iceland to the Faeroe Islands where Sea Shepherd confronted the whale killers and initiated the first high profile campaign against the senseless sport slaughter of pilot whales.
In 1987, Ben organized a Sea Shepherd campaign to the North Pacific on the Sea Shepherd ship Divine Wind captained by Paul Watson. The expedition was able to focus international public attention on the destructive drift net practices of the Japanese and Taiwanese fishing fleets.
Ben became a director of the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society and an energetic supporter of high seas Sea Shepherd campaigns.
In 1989, Ben participated in the voyage of the Sea Shepherd II to the Eastern Tropical Pacific to confront dolphin killing tuna boats.
Ben assisted the Sea Shepherd II in operations in the Caribbean to oppose drift net fishing and helped to organize the early North Pacific drift net campaigns in 1990 and 1992.
In 1992, Ben left Sea Shepherd to devote more energy to championing the rights of captive dolphins and to work with Friends of Animals, and later, with the Animal Welfare Institute.
He will always be remembered as the man who created and led the peaceful turtle army onto the streets of Seattle during the 1998 World Trade Organization meeting. Coincidently Ben White moved from Virginia in the mid-nineties to Friday Harbor, Washington, the same place that Sea Shepherd established headquarters in 1998.
It has been a long and illustrious career for this 53-year old eco-warrior who is also the single father of a son and a daughter and is a skilled arborist.
Now, Ben White is battling cancer and has just undergone intensive surgery to remove tumors from his abdomen.
All of us at Sea Shepherd, staff and volunteers, crew, directors and advisors wish Ben White a speedy recovery with the hope that he wins his battle against cancer.