Skip to Main Content

Cozying Up With a Rising Star of ‘Whale Wars’

Written by PETA | December 10, 2008
seashepherd / CC
Peter Hammarstedt

We’re just happy as clams that our roll dogs in the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society are rocketing to stardom on Animal Planet’s new show Whale Wars.

I, personally, watch week after week—heart pumping, cheering like it’s Monday night football! Well, just in case you were wondering what makes these selfless warriors tick, we thought we’d give you an inside look at their second mate, Peter Hammarstedt.

In Ingrid Newkirk’s new book, One Can Make a Difference, she got the chance to talk to Peter at his parents’ home in Sweden. She found out about the fascinating events that shaped his convictions on animal rights and learned exactly what it looks like to follow one’s deepest passions. Incredible! Check out this excerpt from Hammarstedt’s essay in the book:

The Canadian seal slaughter that I witnessed still gives me nightmares. People call it a “hunt” but I have yet to meet a single hunter who would call bashing baby seals over the head with clubs, “hunting.” I was there in 2005. The ice is absolutely surreal, heavenly, like a world made of broken fragments of mirrors that sparkle in the light, that reflect the colors of the rising and setting sun. It is a wonderland where mother seals come to have their babies, to leave them to bask in the sun, feeling that they are totally safe, being miles and miles away from man. Not realizing that the boats will come, that human greed will catch up with them and reduce them to a bloody pulp.

Humans don’t belong there at all. We must go there to confront the seal killers, to film what they do, to report their indefensible acts of unspeakable cruelty to the world, to witness their despicable acts that violate the International Seal Protection Act. We see an entire world of white turn to red as the seals’ blood runs across the ice. There are suddenly carcasses everywhere as the babies are killed with the blunt or sharp ends of the Hak-a-piks, and stomped, kicked more than once, sometimes six times or so with the sealers’ cleated boots.

During the hunt, I found myself running from the Royal Canadian Mounted Police. They’re there on the ice to protect seal killers, not seals. I had video evidence, and I didn’t want them to seize it. But they tackled me and knocked me to my stomach. I lay there, practicing passive resistance, my arms held behind my back. And as I turned my head, there, just two or three meters away, was a pup. I was so close to her, and her eyes and my eyes were linked together. I do believe she knew the difference, she knew I was not a sealer. As long as I lay there, she was safe.

On a good day, we can stop sealing, but the hunt is massive, and they keep coming back. When I know I have saved a seal, it is an extremely personal experience. I don’t care then if I am locked up for years! We’re often assaulted, but we have to stand our ground. Our clients are the marine animals who have no way to fight for their lives; no power. I think Captain Watson (founder of the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society and founding director of Greenpeace Foundation) speaks for all of us, whether we are on the ice floes or the high seas. When he was challenged about sinking an empty whaling vessel in Iceland, he said, “The hell with you. I didn’t do it for you. I did it for the whales. Find me a whale who would disagree and I’ll stop.” These sea animals have real intelligence, which means they absolutely want to live in harmony with the world. Even the “stupidest” of animals wants that. Captain Watson was once confronted by a whaling boat captain who told him that the reason it is acceptable for human beings to slaughter these magnificent mammals is because “we” have moral reason and intelligence. Captain Watson just stared at him. What is the good of reason and intelligence if all you do is use it to harm others?

Written by Missy Lane

Commenting is closed.
  • MacZig6 says:

    Captain Paul Watson, Peter Hammarstedt, Chris Aultman & Lockhart Maclean are some of the most brave, compassionate people who have & understand their mission ” To Save The Lives of Their Clients!” Marine Mammals, YES MAMMALS! Just like you & me, not a fish, a living, breathing, social being who have a right to a safe,peaceful life! As far as people not caring for Paul, well tuff shit, he isn’t there to make you feel all comfy & warm! He is the one responsible for the lives he has given up his own personal life to save. As far as the volunteers, they are told what they can expect from the get go, he doesn’t have time to beg or plead, its take orders, volunteer for assignments, know your duties or go home! The problem with this is they are just volunteers & they come for a short time, train quickly then its over & they don’t return, cuz it wasn’t all warm & comfy! Billions of people on the Earth & we only have few great people who can give to defend defenseless mammals? Until he can afford to pay the whole crew, he will continue to have volunteers come & go! Paul you keep doing what you do & ill keep sending you cash! With Luv, MacZig6

  • Macka says:

    To VEGANCOIN .. Paul Watson is NOT a vegan. Steve Irwin was not an animal tormentor. The ship is named after Steve for two reasons he was a great bloke and the name is good for publicity.

  • john says:

    the whale is one of the most greatest animals in the world if it was between lions and whales i would go for whale

  • Bob says:

    I love watching this show and I share the crew’s passion to halt the whale hunt…but as a military officer for 20 years I find myself annoyed week after week because of their seeming incompetence in getting the task done! The professional crew seems weak and the volunteers need to be better trained. They put their lives on the line each week to be sure but mostly from their own mistakes!

  • Amber says:

    I saw a crocodile hunter episode where Irwin was tearing up and talking about how much he hated whalers

  • vegancoin says:

    i have watched bits and pieces of the show it’s interesting. In no case do i think it represents what Sea Shepherd Conservation Society and Captain Paul Watson are really about it’s a network cable show it cuts corners and you don’t really get to see the whole picture. Yes Captain Paul Watson is quite a dedicated man and a hero to many of us i am glad he is vegan. i also find it strange that they named a boat after animal abuser and tormentor macho icon Steve Irwin.

  • bbr says:

    OMG! I absotlutely love this show. I make my husband watch with me every weekend. It’s one of my favorite shows and I hope they have another season after this one. I can’t believe it took y’all this long to comment on the show. Every time they show the clip of the japanese harpooning the whale I cringe and turn my head. All that blood and pain the whale experiences hurts my heart. My least favorite person is the captain. I think he lacks compassion for the people on his ship. I understand they are there for a sole purpose but these are humans with lives and families. He treats them as disposable rags. He also made the comment that if people want to donate and help then they will come to Sea Shepherd. I think that’s untrue. If they long to have the goods and money they need to keep doing good the captain should do what he can on land to make it happen. Some people may want to help but may not have the internet or be in the area they are in. But whale wars rocks. i’m lovin it.

  • Daniela says:

    Without a doubt Captain Paul Watson Peter and all of the crew are my heroes. What they are doing takes guts determination and dedication to this planet like no other. We all wait and hope for the safety of his crew and our innocent whales! Please support the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society and watch Whale Wars! ALL WHALING NEEDS TO END ONCE AND FOR ALL!

  • Rex's Mom says:

    I do watch Whale Wars but sad to say I also read that the Japanese whaling fleet just set out again to keep killing whales. I hope the Sea Shepherds can really take a chunk out of the Japanese brutality. How does Peta feel though that the name of the Sea Shepherd’s ship is the Steve Irwin?

  • kelly says:

    I love Whale Wars Why can’t people from other countries send boats out with Sea Shepherd? A whole fleet representing different CIVILIZED nations The Japanese are committing crimes. The world needs to speak up

  • Carla says:

    David you said it all!! These MEN aboard the Sea Shepherd sacrifice there own lives to try and save as many lives as they can from the hands of these wannabemen in an unwarranted brutal murder!! I say heroic THATS an understatment!!! Go get ’em!!!

  • Mike Quinoa says:

    Wow Peter is such a beautiful and eloquent writer. If you check out the Sea Shepherd site you’ll find that Captain Paul Watson wields a mighty pen also. I’m about halfway through “Free The Animals” by Ingrid Newkirk and it is an absolutely spellbinding book. Ingrid’s stellar penmanship kept me up way past my bedtime last night. The book is $12 in the PETA Catalog httpswww.petacatalog.orgproducts.asp?dept111pagenumber1sortonsortby

  • David says:

    I just watched the first episode of whale wars the other evening and was blown away. The importance of the work done by the Sea Shepard Conservation Society cannot be over estimated! Peter Hammarstedt brother YOU are an inspiration!!! When I think of all the people in this world who are living only for themselves worried about the purchases they want to make angling for the next “big promotion” at work worried about who they might get to “hook up” with at the weekend party etc. you and all of your comrades at the Sea Shepard Conservation Society are putting yourselves on the line to do your part in trying to stop the madness that leads to our sanctioning of animal cruelty! You my friend are not just an inspiration to all of us but to me. As I take a good hard look at myself at this juncture in my life struggling with the need to make some important changes I realize that I can no longer afford to remain complacent and self satisfied content to just watch the world go by as I have been for far too long! It is a shame that it has taken me 4212 years to reach this point but better late than never. I applaud young people like you who serve as reminders to the rest of us that working to end violence and cruelty to animals is worth fighting for! You and Sea Shepard crew are some of the best and brightest that this world has to offer!