Some recent feedback from Nathaniel, a young Sea Shepherd volunteer.
"If you get in between me and a whale, if Sea Shepherd intervenes in the Grind, I will kill you first," Grind director Marnar Andreasson growled, his face inches from mine. "And stop filming me."
The next day another whale hunter grabbed me by the throat after I filmed him calling a fellow Sea Shepherd volunteer a "stupid fucking bastard" for trying to stop the Grind.
The Grind is summer tradition here on the Faroe Islands. Motorboats and jet skis chase hundreds of whales into a cove where killers insert hooks into their blow holes, drag them on the beach and sever their spinal cords. The Faroese take what meat they want; the rest is sold to tourists. It is one of the last places on Earth where whales, known for extraordinary intelligence and emotional bonds stronger even than those of humans, are killed.
The Faroese slaughter a thousand whales on average each summer and revel in the bloodshed with little international condemnation. For comparison, the United States Navy was sued in the Supreme Court for killing a few dozen whales by accident.
Last summer was one of the worst Grind seasons: more than 1,200 whales were killed. However, since Sea Shepherd arrived this June, 0 whales have died. We have watched the ocean for between 14 and 43 hours at a time, guided families of whales away from the killing beaches and warned the killers about the dangers of eating whale meat, which has become increasingly poisonous due to mercury.
We are attacked and threatened every day. Nonetheless, it is worth it, knowing we have not allowed a single whale to die this summer. It has been an honor volunteering for Sea Shepherd -- being a Sea Shepherd -- and I will definitely return.
I leave tomorrow to spend a few days with my family before I go to college, but I will join Sea Shepherd again: here, or in another campaign, such as ending dolphin slaughter in Japan or cleaning oil spills in Honduras. I encourage you to do the same. The hours are long and the work is hard and often dangerous, but during moments this trip I have never felt more alive, more excited, or like I was making a greater difference. I cannot describe the feeling of knowing you saved a life perhaps even more valuable than your own.
Why else do I suggest you spend your time and money so you can risk your safety? Sea Shepherd campaigns take place in the most beautiful places on Earth and the other volunteers, from all over the world, are the bravest and most compassionate people I have ever met. Food and housing, often on a ship, are provided by supporter donations (donating at www.seashepherd.orghelps too!): all you need is money for travel and the belief that some animals and places are worth saving, that some of the planet is not ours to ruin.
Thank you for reading this. I hope that perhaps you, too, will embark on this adventure. Cliché aside, it has changed my life forever.