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September 13, 2012

Life at Sea

By Julie Andersen

Simon Ager Bardot Crew on an Underwater_MissonPhoto: Simon AgerThough I have been working with Sea Shepherd since 2007, this is only my second campaign with Sea Shepherd and my first at sea. Even for someone who spends a lot of her life on or in the water, it has taken some getting used to!

The MV Brigitte Bardot is a very compact ship – particularly for 11 people, usually the crew is 8. With a few necessary additions for this campaign, we’ve expanded and are definitely pushing the limits of space and comfort. But then again, who joins a Sea Shepherd campaign to be comfortable?

I’ve learned personal space is a luxury in my small open bunk in a space I share with 10 others. I’ve realized how very little I actually need – possessions… what are those? I’ve learned how to sleep while on what feels like a roller coaster (the Bardot may be fast, but man does she rock and roll). I’ve figured out how to shower with a baby wipe and been liberated from mirrors, makeup, and even brushes. I’ve discovered how to cool off on the equator and what to do on a small ship on those long crossings. Plenty of time to think, plan, and in this case write.

For certain we work hard on behalf of our clients. That is why we are here. That is what we do. Any moment we can be working for the oceans, we are. Whether it means cleaning the railings, doing watch, or investigating a long liner. Hopefully all of this means ending the illegal slaughter going on in our oceans. All of us would do anything to save even a single whale, shark, or dolphin.

We also have the opportunity to experience things that very few can and for that we are so grateful. I have a feeling only a handful of people in the world can say they’ve seen Nukamororo, the island where Amelia Earhart may have crash landed in Kiribati. Or have slid down the waterfall on a chief’s private land in Western Samoa. Or have sailed on the bow of a traditional vaka in the Solomon Islands powered only by the elements. Or have been hosted for the evening by a village in Vanuatu. Or have drank kava with the Tui’caka in Fiji. Or have swam with a humpback mother and newborn calf in Tonga.

More important than the unique experiences are the gratifying ones that make what we do so meaningful. The reason we do what we do. The animals we’ve saved, the children we’ve connected with, the villages we’ve educated about conservation, the fishing vessels we’ve inspected, and the partnerships we’ve forged. Every single person on this boat has given up a lot to contribute to our shared mission: personal lives, loved ones, an income, and yes – even private space and comfort. So even if we do get on each other’s nerves now and then – we are all in this important cause together– for the right reasons. And that makes everything worth it.

Paul Wildman Boxing on the BardotPaul Wildman Boxing on the Bardot

Simon Ager Bardot in TongaPhoto: Simon Ager