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The time to end the inhumane killing is at hand...

CAPTAIN WATSON CALLS FOR UNITY AND SUPPORT

OPERATION: GRINDSTOP 2000

MAY 6, 2000 Dear Friends,

Like most of our species, I have a deep love and great respect for marine wildlife. Also like most humans, I am concerned that something must be done to prevent the slaughter of whales and dolphins.

As the founder and President of the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society, I am in a unique position to act in defense of our brethren of the seas. But I cannot act alone; I need your support. ESPECIALLY NOW!

As you read this, the crew of Sea Shepherd's flagship Ocean Warrior has departed for Europe, and will this summer enter the cold, remote, and hostile waters off the Faroe Islands. There, just south of the Arctic Circle, between Iceland and Scotland, a slaughter of unprecedented cruelty continues every summer.

The defenseless victims of this brutal sport hunt, called a "Grind," are up to 2000 gentle and intelligent long-finned pilot whales, bottlenose whales, white-sided dolphins, and even Orcas. The killers range from mere children to weather-hardened fishermen.

The hunt begins when a pod of pilot whales is sighted off the coast. Excited voices radio the information from fishing boats to shore. The cry is taken up by the local radio station, and within minutes most of the population of 45,000 are aware of the approach of the whales.

Children stop their play. Many of the adults quit work for the day. They all rush to the shoreline. Some jump into small boats and motor out toward the whales.

Tourists on the shore will begin to share the excitement, ignorant of what is really happening. It is always an adventure to sight whales. They'll just be able to see the large black dorsal fins breaking the water, and they'll hear the sharp whoosh of hundreds of whales spouting as they watch the mist from their blowholes punctuated by a myriad of rainbows.

The tourists may smile as they witness a small boat with a grandfather bringing his grandsons out to see the whales up close. Some tourists might attach a telephoto lens to their cameras to catch the expression of a small boy in a boat as his grandfather motors close to a whale.

The tourist's smile will soon dissolve at the shock of what he will next witness. The young boy will suddenly whip out a wicked looking curved hook called a "soknarongul." Laughing, the boy will plunge the hook deep into the back of the whale. At the same time, the grandfather will drive a "hvalvakn," a harpoon, deep into the whales back. The whale will scream; a high-pitched squeal, blowhole spouting a pink mist. Overcome with pain, the whale will be driven into shore.

The entire harbor will take on a vivid red color as the blue water is fouled with the blood of hundreds of pilot whales. Although the fear, the pain, and the stress are unimaginable, not one whale will turn on its attacker. Not one child will have a reason to fear the teeth of the pilot whale. These are gentle animals, incapable of violence even in self-defense. Instead, whales that are not struck will try in vain to help the wounded only to fall victim to the merciless assault of the killers. In fact, throughout the bloody history of the slaughter, there has never been an attack on the whalers. This does not stop them from patting each other on the back and complimenting one another on their incredible "courage" in killing whales. In truth is it takes little courage to slaughter the innocent, the gentle, and the defenseless.

During the "Grind," children covering the whales' blowholes with their hands guide many of the whales to their deaths. Unable to breathe and in panic, they allow the children to guide them up onto the beach.

On the beach, the same children, guided by the men, saw through the blubber and muscle to the spinal cord. With the spinal cord cut, the whale thrashes about until it snaps its own neck.

As a wildlife conservationist, I have witnessed numerous acts of cruelty and brutality, from the skinning alive of baby seals in Canada to the spearing of dolphins in Japan. But nothing that I have ever witnessed had prepared me for this. These kills are without a doubt the most horrific and inhumane killing of animals anywhere.

The Faroese people have been killing whales in this way for more than 400 years. In the past, it was done for survival; the meat fed the families of the fishermen. No better killing methods were known, and rarely were more than a thousand whales killed each year. Starting in 1980, as many as 3,000 whales were killed in a single year. Yet the increased kills started at exactly the time when the Faroese no longer need the meat. In 1985, with all the freezers full, the hunt went on. The whales were left on the beach to rot.

The 45,000 inhabitants of the islands enjoy one of the highest standards of living in Europe. They sell hundreds of millions of dollars of fish products every year to Britain, Canada, the USA, and the Far East. Despite the distinction of being among the wealthiest people in the world per capita, the kill continues. Even the islanders flatly admit that the kill is carried out for sport and enjoyment.

The kills spare no whale. Pregnant females, nursing mothers and their young are all cruelly slaughtered.

On the day of a kill, the schools are officially closed to allow young boys to participate. They are allowed to practice using the razor sharp "Grindaknivur" on the unborn whales dragged from their mother's wombs.

One media representative reporting on the hunts wrote of witnessing boys of six and seven hacking at fetuses and whale heads; literally up to their elbows in blood. He saw one young boy so exhausted by the hacking and cutting that he fell asleep on a bleeding and headless whale carcass.

The men often drink beer and aquavit as they cut up some of the whales. It is a festive occasion. The men are usually drenched in whale blood. Photographers who have taken graphic pictures of the hunts have been threatened by the whalers and told to leave town.

The government's response to appeals has been met with charges that the whale kill is nobody else's business.

The Faroese have Home Rule under Denmark. They have a simple attitude toward international whaling laws: They ignore them. They refuse to sign any treaties and openly defy the Berne Convention banning the indiscriminate slaughter of any species.

The Faroese MUST be challenged with a worldwide boycott of their most precious commodity, their fishing industry. While we have attained a large measure of success in this over the past year, the boycott must be expanded and strengthened. A united front by concerned environmental, conservation, and animal welfare organizations is vital to ending the hunts. The whales this year will be assisted by the direct intervention of our flagship Ocean Warrior as our part of "OPERATION: GRINDSTOP 2000." So long as the 185-foot conservation ship can remain on station in Faroese waters, the whale massacres can be prevented. We need funds for fuel and for food to feed our all-volunteer crewmembers. The whales have a navy to protect them, but the navy needs support.

I appeal to you to help us stop the "Grind" hunts and save the whales at risk. I urge you to participate in land-actions that will be taking place in concert with our high-seas campaign. You can send us a contribution toward keeping our ship in a position to protect the whales. You can rest assured that your donation is going entirely to fuel and provision the flagship of the Whale's Navy, the Ocean Warrior.

As her Captain, and on behalf of my crew, I urge you to act quickly and effectively to save these beautiful and persecuted animals. Together we can shut this slaughter down and bring this cruel and wasteful killing to an end forever.

I thank you on behalf of the Whales,

Captain Paul Watson


Last updated May 10, 2000