Have you been tuning in for the newest season of Whale Wars? If not, you’re missing out. This season has been a wild ride both on and off the Steve Irwin: The boat was almost destroyed by an iceberg, Paul Watson ordered the crew to stand down while whalers within arm’s reach searched for a crewmember who had fallen overboard, and there was an anthrax scare in the most recent episode.
Oh, and we can’t forget about the addition of PETA’s Sexiest Vegetarian Naval Woman to this year’s crew. For all of you who are just as thrilled by the addition of Jane Taylor to the Steve Irwin crew as I am, I’ll let you in on a little secret: She may be back in the future. Want to know more? Just read our interview with her below:
How did your training in the Navy prepare you for your position with Sea Shepherd?
I spent my six and a half years in the Navy as a surface warfare officer, where I was assigned to a marine transport ship in San Diego, California, and a frigate out of Seattle, Washington. On both of those vessels, I was required to be a small-boat officer, which made me very familiar with Sea Shepherd’s Delta and Gemini launching, recovery, and general small-boat operations. I’ve spent countless hours in a Navy small boat. I was also required to qualify as an officer of the watch, so I had experience with ship maneuvering (but not through ice!), navigation, rules of the road, helicopter operations, radars, radio communication, and everything else that comes along with being on the bridge of a 300- to 500-foot ship. As a bonus, I was also a helicopter control officer on the frigate, ensuring the safety of a helicopter when launching and recovering.
The difference: Sea Shepherd plays music on the bridge, we get to ride the bow in major storms, our ship’s log has drawings and colorful stamps (after three mistakes in the Navy, you have to rewrite the log) … and the Steve Irwin is vegan!
What was the most rewarding part of your post with Sea Shepherd?
I would say being able to utilize my skills in an appropriate arena—the ocean—and feeling useful. The ultimate for an animal activist is to go on campaign and be in the action and feel the wind and sea spray and life as opposed to being in an office, which, of course, is important as well.
It was wonderful. The day we found the fleet, a minke whale crossed in between us and the factory ship, Nisshin Maru, and we knew we were his or her protector. The whale could safely carry on and live another peaceful day, and to do that for at least one whale was a mission accomplished. But we knew we couldn’t stop there … whaling needs to end.
What was one of the most difficult things about fighting against whalers?
When we were out in the Southern Ocean, it was four against one. The harpoon ships are so fast and maneuverable (they could do a 180 in their own wake!) and easily did circles around us. It made it difficult to ever feel as though we had the upper hand, and we often felt a bit like a tin can. It would be amazing if we were no longer outnumbered.
Here are some stats:
Length Tonnage Steve Irwin 60 meters/196 feet 885 gross register tonnage Harpoon ships (Yushin Maru) 1025 gross register tonnage Factory Ship (Nisshin Maru) 130 meters/425feet 8000 gross register tonnage
What animal rights issues are you most passionate about?
It was very difficult to decide where to focus my efforts, but I thought Sea Shepherd was the perfect place since I have skills for ship-handling, guts for action, and a heart for humanity.
Immediately, I would like to work on getting Sea Shepherd another ship to use down in Antarctica. But in addition to focusing on marine life, I will also be concentrating my efforts on ending vivisection—another arena of extreme cruelty to animals.
Whale Wars can be a pretty intense show. Have you ever had a moment where you thought you couldn’t keep going? What made you persevere?
There was never a moment when I thought I couldn’t keep going. All the action was extremely intense with lots of adrenaline going through everyone’s blood. The action became very addicting, and when we had to leave the whaling fleet, it was very, very disappointing. I was not ready to leave. We definitely need more ships out there.
Now for the question on everyone’s mind: How has being named PETA’s Sexiest Naval Woman positively affected your life?
It’s a very fun title to have, and who wouldn’t be honored to have the title of PETA’s Sexiest Naval Woman? I thought there might only be two vegetarians out there to compete with, but what a wonderful surprise to hear that there were so many! I’m looking forward to wearing my winning T-shirt and sparking some interesting conversations with animal lovers, as well as educating those who want to debate the issues.
Can we look forward to a third season of the show?
Oh, yes. There is a third season. Sea Shepherd has just merged with Earthrace, a round-the-world, record-breaking trimaran, so I suspect that the tactics next year are going to be completely different. Anything could happen when you bring a boat that looks like a spaceship down to the Southern Ocean!
Will you be on deck again?
Oh, I got so addicted to Sea Shepherd’s campaigns that I want to go on all of them! Before the merge, I met Earthrace in New Zealand and loved the boat, so I will be trying out to crew on it. With Sea Shepherd Conservation Society’s new popularity, there are so many new, interesting, skilled, and keen volunteers, so I’m not sure if I will be selected, but my fingers are crossed!
Written by Shawna Flavell