Sea Shepherd International
PO BOX 2616
Friday Harbor,
Washington 98250-2616
(360) 370-5500

Oceanic Research & Conservation Action Force

Carry the Sea Shepherd Credit Card!

Sea Shepherd International is an IRS fully certified 501(c)(3) non-profit organization. All donations are tax-deductible

Founder and President

"Captain Paul Watson is the world's most aggressive, most determined, most active and most effective defender of wildlife."
Farley Mowat, Author of Never Cry Wolf, Sea of Slaughter, A Whale for the Killing.

-- Founder of Sea Shepherd International
-- Founding Director, Greenpeace Foundation
-- Protector of the High Seas
-- Environmental Defender


Paul Watson is a Canadian conservationist and environmental activist who has become internationally renowned for his daring, innovative and aggressive approach to the field of wildlife conservation. As one of the founding members of the Greenpeace Foundation, Paul Watson sailed into a nuclear test site in Alaska in 1971, and in 1975 became the first man to place his body between a harpoon and a whale, capturing the attention of the media worldwide.

Watson founded the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society in 1977, an organization registered in Canada, the U.S., Great Britain, Ireland, Australia and Sweden. Under his leadership, the society has been in the forefront of marine wildlife conservation, and is known for its aggressive confrontation and use of the media to bring attention to conservation and environmental issues. Its activities are impressive in their scope, and include bringing an end to pirate whaling in the North Atlantic by ramming the whaler Sierra off the coast of Portugal in 1979, successfully documenting illegal whaling in Soviet Siberia after a six-hour pursuit by the Soviet Navy and Air Force in 1981, interfering in the activities of sealing fleets off the eastern coast of Canada, and leading a campaign against the slaughter of Pilot whales in the Faroe Islands, which led to an armed assault on the Sea Shepherd II in 1985 and 1986.

Paul Watson is a McLuhanesque conservationist. He studied communications and the media at Simon Fraser University; after university he worked with the American Indian Movement during the occupation and siege of Wounded Knee, South Dakota, followed by his daring campaigns with Greenpeace. His nautical knowledge results from his work in the Norwegian and Swedish merchant marine and Canadian Coast Guard. He has been written about in scores of books and  magazines, and has been the subject of hundreds of radio and television programs worldwide. A major motion picture is being produced about his life and work. Captain Watson has written three books and lectures throughout North America and Europe on marine wildlife conservation, the politics of conservation and his personal experiences in environmental movements and campaigns.

Click to read Captain Watson's Message

(Click To Read)


Paul Watson's career as a Master Mariner began in 1968 as a seaman in the Norwegian merchant marine. His early voyages provided him with experience on all the world's oceans, from typhoons in the South China Sea to navigating the iceberg-strewn northern latitudes of the

``On the Ice"

Atlantic. He served in the Canadian Coast Guard for two years in the early seventies, and completed his academic education in communications at Simon Fraser University in British Columbia in 1974.

In 1971, Paul joined with other members of the Sierra Club in organizing a voyage to protest nuclear weapons testing in the Aleutians. The group was the Don't Make a Wave Committee and Watson served as First Mate on that landmark expedition. The ship was the M/V Greenpeace. In 1972, Paul Watson along with some of the other crewmembers of that famous expedition founded an organization in Vancouver, British Columbia. That group was the Greenpeace Foundation.

Between 1971 and 1977, Paul Watson served as First Officer on all the Greenpeace voyages to protect whales. Utilizing his Canadian Coast Guard experience, he suggested operating zodiacs to intervene between the harpoons and the whales. During a confrontation with a Russian whaler in 1975, a harpooned and dying sperm whale loomed over Paul's small boat. Paul recognized a flicker of understanding in the dying whale's eye. He felt that the whale knew what they were trying to do. He watched as the magnificent leviathan heaved its body away from his boat, slipped beneath the waves and died. A few seconds of looking into this dying whale's eye changed his life forever. He vowed to become a lifelong defender of the whales and all creatures of the seas.

In 1975, he led the Greenpeace expeditions to protect harp seals on the ice floes off Newfoundland. Paul Watson and fellow Greenpeace co-founder David
Garrick were instrumental in elevating the issue of protecting the helpless baby harp seals to the level of international concern.

Paul Watson left Greenpeace in 1977 because he felt the original goals of the organization were being compromised and there was a need for a direct-action conservation organization that would enforce laws protecting marine wildlife on the high seas.

That same year, Paul Watson founded the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society, an organization dedicated to research, investigation and enforcement of laws, treaties, resolutions and regulations established to protect marine wildlife worldwide.

In December 1978, Paul Watson purchased a North Atlantic trawler in Britain and converted her into the conservation enforcement vessel Sea Shepherd. Three voyages to protect harp seals finally led to the landmark case in the Supreme Court in Canada which overturned the "Seal Protection Act" and shut-down the Canadian commercial seal hunt 1983. This was followed by victories that defeated seal hunts in Scotland and Ireland.

Captain Watson's lifelong dedication to the conservation of whales has never wavered. In 1979, he hunted and shutdown the pirate whaler Sierra. In 1980, his crew brought half the Spanish whaling fleet to a stand-still and convinced the South African government to confiscate two outlaw whaling ships, the Susan and the Theresa.

In 1986, Captain Watson's crew brought the illegal Icelandic whaling industry to a grinding halt. In port, his crew scuttled the unmanned pirate whaler Nybraena as a "Christmas gift to the whales" on December 26th, 1992.

In July of 1994, Captain Watson and Lisa Distefano led a highly publicized campaign against the illegal pirate whaling operations of Norway. They sailed the vessel Whales Forever within 40 miles of the whaling fleets at work when they were suddenly attacked by the Norwegian Navy. The crew and the independent media aboard the Whales Forever survived the violent attack which included being rammed, depth charged and fired upon by the Norwegian Navy which was protecting the whaling fleet. None of these carefully supervised law-enforcement actions for future generations have resulted in any injuries.

In enforcement of the United Nations Resolution 46/215 banning drift nets worldwide, Captain Watson has led four high seas expeditions against drift netting, in the process, stopping four ships from their activity and confiscating and destroying over a hundred miles of deadly and illegal monofilament drift net. Sea Shepherd Conservation Society was instrumental in exposing and shutting down the U.S. tuna fleets' destructive and cruel practice of fishing on dolphins by obtaining the first videotaped evidence of this practice.

From 1984-87, Paul Watson organized, founded and led Friends of the Wolf in a successful effort to shut down aerial wolf-hunting in British Columbia, the Yukon and Alaska.

Paul began an alliance with Native Americans when he served as a medic for the American Indian Movement at Wounded Knee in 1973. In the same year, he was given the rare honor of being inducted into the Oglala Lakota Sioux tribe. In 1991, Captain Watson placed his ship and crew into the service of the Gitksan Wet'suwet'en nation. They symbolically reclaimed San Salvador Island in the Bahamas and then intercepted and boarded the Santa Maria off Puerto Rico. The Christopher Columbus reenactment voyage was successfully co-opted as an embarrassment to Spain and a victory for indigenous peoples worldwide.

For 20 years, Captain Paul Watson has been at the helm of the world's most active marine environmental organization. All of Captain Watson's efforts on behalf of wildlife and the environment have been volunteered. Paul has never taken any wages or remuneration from the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society or Greenpeace before that. He is the author of Cry Wolf, Sea Shepherd: My Fight for Whales and Seals, Shepherds of the Sea and Ocean Warrior.

Captain Watson is a highly sought-after public speaker and has been a professor of ecology at Pasadena College of Design since 1990. He is also teaching at UCLA. Captain Watson is a regular columnist in Ocean Realm magazine.


Read about the founding of Sea Shepherd in Captain Watson's own words.




The Board of Advisors
The Staff and Regular Crew
The Fleet
The Sponsors


Home | About Us | Issues | Join Us | Contacts |Log | Ocean Realm | Search Site | Alerts | Links

Copyright 2000, 2001 Sea Shepherd International. All rights reserved .