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August 28, 2012

It’s a small world – even in the South Pacific

By Julie Andersen

Photo: Deborah BassettPhoto: Deborah BassettWherever we go, no matter how remote, we run into people who know us. And are thrilled to see us. The work Sea Shepherd does has earned us a lot of fans around the world – and all over the South Pacific. From local villagers running to the beaches in droves with fresh fruit to welcome us, to posing for countless pictures with Tongans, Fijians, Solomon Islanders and Fijians who recognize the Sea Shepherds from Whale Wars, to boats sailing off course to meet us, excited to see the unique shape of Bardot on the horizon, desperate for a tour.

Yesterday, we realized just how small our planet is – or perhaps how fate intervenes to ensure those on the same mission come together. We went ashore an incredibly remote and rather desolate village on a small island in Tonga in the hopes that somehow, there might actually be a phone signal – or better yet… Internet! As we walked down the empty dirt street without a person in sight, we heard someone yell from behind “Hey Sea Shepherd!”

We stopped to find a smiling face rushing to us from the harbor. He had rushed ashore just to see if it was indeed Sea Shepherd – as he has a special place in his heart for the work we do. So special in fact, that he played an integral role in the success of our Antarctic campaign a few years back. We were thrilled to learn he was the captain of the passenger vessel from New Zealand, the Orion, who, during Operation Waltzing Matilda, not only found the Japanese whaling fleet for us, radioing to the Steve Irwin with the coordinates, but convinced his nearly 100 passengers to stay with the fleet for two days until we arrived. A true hero for the whales. We all knew of the story and his actions and were thrilled to be able to thank him in person.

It is so heartening to know that no matter where we go, we meet people who care for the sea as much as we do, and are willing to do whatever it takes to protect it. Shepherds, globally spread, uniting in a shared and critical mission.

Photo: Deborah BassettPhoto: Deborah Bassett