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How Can a Sinking Feeling Be So Elevating?

Captain Kirk: "They say the sea is cold, but the sea contains the hottest blood of all." Dr. Gillian: "Whales Weep Not, D. H. Lawrence." - Star Trek Movie, The Return Home

Today's column is about an arrogant man whose destiny it is to experience a violent death, and I really want to be wrong about that, but he and I both know it to be true. Today's column is about a man who puts his life and convictions on the line. It's about dedication to a cause. It's about passion and an underlying theme of universal wisdom which connects each of the creatures of this planet to one another. What do you do for a living, and what is your life's work?

I've worn many hats in my life. Warehouse manager, production supervisor, dishwasher, chef, restaurant owner, laboratory vivisectionist/researcher, real estate salesman, real estate developer. Today, when asked that question, I respond that I am an author, lecturer, activist, historian, manufacturer, trouble maker. I thought that all of my responses were kind of cool, until I met a man to whom I posed that same question. "What do you do," I asked Paul Watson.

He smiled. The woman holding onto his arm giggled. The bystanders who knew more about the man than I did laughed good naturedly, conspirators in knowledge to my ignorance. His response:

"I sink whaling ships."

That is how I met Paul Watson, the ocean warrior who commands a vessel called "The Sea Shepherd."

Last month, March, 2012, Paul won one of the greatest victories in the history of the animal rights movement. He single-handedly beat the Japanese whaling industry. He did not sink their ships. The captains of those boats sailed home in shame with their rudderless tail flippers between their legs.

Paul Watson and crew chased the Japanese whaling fleet over 17,000 miles of Antarctic ocean as they hunted Minke whales. The Japanese were given a quota of 935 Minke whales which they could legally kill in 2012. Due to Watson's courage and diligence, the whalers gave up their destructive hunting mission after taking the lives of 266 magnificent sea mammals with their harpoons. We mourn the deaths of those 266 graceful sea-mammals while celebrating the lives of 669 which were provided sanctuary through Paul's heroic actions.

The Japanese whaling fleet had been given a $30 million subsidy to counter Watson's leviathan methods. Watson's reaction:

"They allocated $30 million from the tsunami earthquake relief fund this year to do what they're doing. I don't know if they can continue to do that every year. But you know it's become a glorified welfare scheme and just to satisfy their national pride. How much longer can they afford to do that? I don't know."

Paul Watson and his crew look death in the face on every voyage. Remarkably, many members of his crew enlist for one or more voyages out of a sense of adventure and enlightenment. These are not rum-laced pina colada midnight cruises to San Juan. This is something to which volunteers return, forever touched by the reality of that link between all creatures.

Great philosophers have said that man can never understand life until he looks death in the face. Those who sail with Paul simultaneously look whales in the face, while facing angry motivated hunters.

In 2006, Paul Watson's Sea Shepherd sideswiped a whaling vessel off the coast of Australia. A vessel ready to kill one of the whales that Paul risks his own life to save. A whale that is protected by man's treaties which are violated by those seeking extremely expensive flesh sold by the ounce in Japanese fish markets.

Perhaps you would like to thank Paul for his work:

If the spirit of adventure and justice is tempting, there is a downloadable form waiting for you to enlist as a future member of Paul's crew.

Paul Watson's Sea Shepherd is an ocean sanctuary for non-human earthlings who rely upon such men and women of conviction for friendship and survival.

A second crew that has saved whales:

* * * * *

Whales Weep Not! by D. H. Lawrence

They say the sea is cold, but the sea contains the hottest blood of all, and the wildest, the most urgent.

All the whales in the wider deeps, hot are they, as they urge on and on, and dive beneath the icebergs. The right whales, the sperm-whales, the hammer-heads, the killers there they blow, there they blow, hot wild white breath out of the sea!

And they rock, and they rock, through the sensual ageless ages on the depths of the seven seas, and through the salt they reel with drunk delight and in the tropics tremble they with love and roll with massive, strong desire, like gods.

Then the great bull lies up against his bride in the blue deep bed of the sea, as mountain pressing on mountain, in the zest of life: and out of the inward roaring of the inner red ocean of whale-blood the long tip reaches strong, intense, like the maelstrom-tip, and comes to rest in the clasp and the soft, wild clutch of a she-whale's fathomless body.

And over the bridge of the whale's strong phallus, linking the wonder of whales the burning archangels under the sea keep passing, back and forth, keep passing, archangels of bliss from him to her, from her to him, great Cherubim that wait on whales in mid-ocean, suspended in the waves of the sea, great heaven of whales in the waters, old hierarchies.

And enormous mother whales lie dreaming suckling their whale-tender young and dreaming with strange whale eyes wide open in the waters of the beginning and the end.

And bull-whales gather their women and whale-calves in a ring when danger threatens, on the surface of the ceaseless flood and range themselves like great fierce Seraphim facing the threat encircling their huddled monsters of love.

And all this happens in the sea, in the salt where God is also love, but without words: and Aphrodite is the wife of whales most happy, happy she! and Venus among the fishes skips and is a she-dolphin she is the gay, delighted porpoise sporting with love and the sea she is the female tunny-fish, round and happy among the males and dense with happy blood, dark rainbow bliss in the sea.

* * * * *

You might now begin to understand the bliss felt by Captain Paul Watson, as the Japanese whale hunters ended their hunt and sailed home through pounding Antarctic waves to the meter of a D. H. Lawrence poem. his crew sleeps, Paul Watson is serenaded by a beloved concert which resonates from ocean depths through the steel hull of his ship:

Robert Cohen