Our History

Captain Paul Watson

Sea Shepherd was founded in 1977 by Captain Paul Watson in Vancouver, Canada, with the mission to protect and conserve all marine wildlife. Incorporated in Oregon in 1981 as the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society, today the movement has independent entities in over 20 countries working together on direct-action campaigns around the world. In 2013 Sea Shepherd Global was established in Amsterdam to coordinate communications and logistics for the Sea Shepherd fleet on campaigns outside the United States.

1977

February 6, 1977

1977

April: Paul Watson and Greenpeace part ways. June: Watson establishes the Earthforce Environmental Society in Vancouver, Canada. The co-founders of Earthforce are Starlet Lum, Ron Precious, and Captain Al “Jet” Johnson…

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1978

February 6, 1978

1978

February: Paul Watson leads the first Earthforce Campaign to Protect Elephants from Poachers in East Africa to investigate the ivory trade and elephant poaching. This campaign covers Kenya, Tanzania, Somalia,…

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1979

February 6, 1979

1979

January: The maiden voyage of the Sea Shepherd under the command of Watson is a journey across the Atlantic accomplished in two weeks and the ship arrives at the Port of Boston in…

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1980

February 6, 1980

1980

February: The Sierra Trading Company spends over one million dollars to repair the Sierra. Owner Andrew Behr makes plans to resume whaling in mid-February. His plans are thwarted when two men and a…

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1981

February 6, 1981

1981

March: Captain Watson leads a crew with three ocean kayaks to the Gulf of St. Lawrence in violation of his parole order. Hundreds of seals are sprayed with harmless blue dye….

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1982

February 7, 1982

1982

January: The Sea Shepherd departs Los Angeles for Honolulu, Hawaii, to prepare for a campaign to stop the slaughter of dolphins at Iki Island, Japan. March: To avoid a confrontation with the Sea ShepherdII crew, the…

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1983

February 7, 1983

1983

January: The Sea Shepherd II transits the Panama Canal for the second time, now en route to Grenada. The ship delivers a cargo of relief supplies to St. George’s Grenada before the ship…

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1984

February 8, 1984

1984

January: In 1984, the Quebec Court of Appeals rules in favor of  Captain Watson and the crew of the Sea Shepherd II. The convictions of the lower court are reversed and the…

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1985

February 22, 1985

1985

April: The Canadian Supreme Court upholds the ruling of the Quebec Court of Appeal. The Court orders the return of the Sea Shepherd II to Sea Shepherd. Captain Watson recruits a crew of…

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1986

February 22, 1986

1986

June: The Sea Shepherd II departs from Plymouth for Malmo, Sweden, to attend the meeting of the International Whaling Commission (IWC). July: The Sea Shepherd II departs Malmo for the Danish Faeroe Islands to document and…

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1987

February 22, 1987

1987

May & June: With the Sea Shepherd II in Britain and in need of repairs, the Society needs a vessel to oppose escalating driftnet activities in the North Pacific. Sea Shepherd Conservation Society…

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1988

February 22, 1988

1988

January: Captain Watson, Activist/Dr. Joanna Forwell, and Sea Shepherd Sweden Director Sten Borg travel to Iceland. Captain Watson demands that Iceland lay charges against Sea Shepherd Conservation Society and himself for…

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1989

February 22, 1989

1989

July: After lengthy repairs in the Netherlands and Britain, the Sea Shepherd II crosses the Atlantic to Key West, Florida, to take on crew and supplies for a transit of the Panama Canal…

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1990

February 22, 1990

1990

March: Sea Shepherd Conservation Society consults with a marine biologist and a physicist to find a method for sinking driftnet without ecological damage. A successful method is found, tested, and prepared….

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1991

February 22, 1991

1991

January: The Sea Shepherd II departs from San Diego on a voyage to Key West, Florida, via the Panama Canal. Off of Guatemala, the Sea Shepherd II discovers the Mexican tuna seiner Tungui with her nets in…

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1992

February 22, 1992

1992

February: The Sea Shepherd II and the Edward Abbey depart from Key West, Florida, via the Panama Canal and bound for Cocos Island off the coast of Costa Rica. Upon arrival at the island, a…

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1993

February 22, 1993

1993

January: Sea Shepherd challenges the government of Norway to prosecute the Sea Shepherd crew responsible for sinking the Norwegian whaler Nybraena. Norway refuses to respond.  Paul Watson’s book Earthforce! An Earth Warrior’s Guide…

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1994

February 22, 1994

1994

January: A Sea Shepherd team scuttles the illegally operated Norwegian whaling vessel Senet in southern Norway. The investigation of the sinking revealed to Norwegian authorities that the vessel had just returned from smuggling…

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1995

February 22, 1995

1995

January: The National Marine Fisheries Service announces its decision to exterminate the California sea lions that frequent the Ballard Locks of Seattle, Washington, to feed on steelhead trout. Sea Shepherd negotiates…

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1996

February 22, 1996

1996

March: Sea Shepherd returns to the Gulf of St. Lawrence along with company principals of Kirchhoff Bettwarenfabrik, one year after the sealer riot. Baby harp seal fur is successfully gathered without…

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1997

February 22, 1997

1997

March: The Sea Shepherd III makes a test run from Scotland to Bremerhaven, Germany. In Bremerhaven, the ship is berthed for further repairs. March: Captain Watson is arrested in Bremerhaven by German police on…

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1998

February 22, 1998

1998

January: The Sea Shepherd III moves to Wilmington, North Carolina, to prepare the ship for a campaign to protect harp seals in the Canadian Gulf of St. Lawrence. January: Sea Shepherd participates in a…

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1999

February 23, 1999

1999

February: Sea Shepherd provides funds to international sturgeon expert Dr.Vadim Birstein and the Sturgeon Society in a research program to determine the extent of the illegal Russian caviar trade and its…

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2000

February 23, 2000

2000

 January: A Petrobras Oil Company pipeline ruptures near Rio de Janeiro and spills over 300,000 gallons of crude oil into the bay and marshes. Sea Shepherd volunteers coordinate wildlife rescue efforts….

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2001

February 23, 2001

2001

January: The oil tanker Jessica runs aground off San Cristobal Island in the Galapagos, spilling 160,000 gallons of diesel and 80,000 gallons of bunker fuel. Sirenian is the first vessel on the scene, and proceeds…

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2002

February 23, 2002

2002

January 31: The Ecuadorian longliner San Jose I which was arrested by the Ocean Warrior in August of 2001 and is found guilty of illegally fishing inside the boundaries of the…

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2003

February 23, 2003

2003

January – December: The Sea Shepherd patrol vessel Sirenianenters and completes her third year of service in partnership with the Galapagos National Park. January: The Farley Mowat stays in Antarctica until the end of January….

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2004

February 23, 2004

2004

January – December: The Sea Shepherd patrol vessel Sirenian enters and completes her fourth year of service in partnership with the Galapagos National Park. March: The Farley Mowat departs from Seattle for a voyage to the…

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2005

February 23, 2005

2005

February – April: The Sea Shepherd ship Farley Mowat departs from Bermuda, refuels in Portland, Maine, battles bureaucrats in Halifax, and enters the Gulf of St. Lawrence to intervene against the slaughter of…

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2006

February 23, 2006

2006

January: The Farley Mowat chases the Nisshin Maru for three thousand miles along the Antarctic coast. On January 8, the Farley Mowat once again approaches the Nisshin Maru and deploys propeller foulers. The Nisshin Maru stops whaling activities and flees. On…

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2007

February 23, 2007

2007

January : The Robert Hunter refuels in Puntarenas, Chile, and then heads to the Ross Sea to search for the Japanese whaling fleet. The Farley Mowat departs from Tasmania for the Ross Sea on the…

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2008

February 23, 2008

2008

January – March: The Sea Shepherd ship Steve Irwin voyages twice to the coast of Antarctica to disrupt illegal Japanese whaling activities in the Southern Ocean Whale. Two Sea Shepherd crew board a…

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2009

February 23, 2009

2009

February: At theGoed Geld Gala in the Netherlands, the Dutch Postcode Lottery “Postcodeloterij” awards Sea Shepherd a grant for 2009 funding which included a check for €500,000. April: Skarbakk, an outlaw…

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2010

February 23, 2010

2010

January – March: Three Sea Shepherd ships (Steve Irwin, Bob Barker, Ady Gil) navigate to the Southern Ocean Whale Sanctuary to intervene against illegal whaling activities by the Japanese. The Shonan Maru…

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2011

February 23, 2011

2011

January: Captain Watson’s offer to purchase enslaved dolphin Misty from Dolphin Base in Taiji, is rejected. January: Through a classified U.S. State Department document quoting the Japanese Fisheries Agency, Wikileaks reveals that…

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2012

February 23, 2012

2012

January: Sea Shepherd receives approval from Australia to use drones to search for the whaling fleet in the Southern Ocean. January: Sea Shepherd assists Forest Rescue Australia in a complex and daring…

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2013

March 6, 2013

2013

January 2013: Legendary free divers Enzo and Patrizia Maiorca join Sea Shepherd’s Board of Advisors. January 2013: Captain Paul Watson is the second activist to be granted an Aboriginal Nation…

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2014

March 6, 2014

2014

January 2014: A pod of 250+ dolphins are held for 5 days and 4 nights while the prettiest are chosen for a life of captivity. January 2014: Smashing Pumpkins artist…

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2015

March 6, 2015

2015

January 2015: The Sam Simon discovers another monster gillnet and begins the recovery process. Total recovered is 72 kilometers (70 tons) January 2015: Actress and longtime supporter Pamela Anderson joins…

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2016

March 6, 2016

2016

January 2016: In a momentous decision, the Mexican government has authorized Sea Shepherd to remove illegal gillnets found in the vaquita refuge. January 2016: Sea Shepherd retrieves the first gillnet…

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2017

March 6, 2017

2017

January 2017: Sea Shepherd launches the latest vessel in the fleet, the M/V John Paul DeJoria, a Coast Guard Cutter named after longtime Sea Shepherd supporter John Paul DeJoria. January…

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2018

December 1, 2018

2018

Sea Shepherd renews partnership with Liberia for Operation Sola Stella 3. In a joint operation with the Liberian Ministry of National Defense to tackle illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing…

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2018

December 1, 2018

2018

Sea Shepherd retires its flagship the Steve Irwin. After a decade of campaigns defending marine wildlife, from the Southern Ocean to the Faroe Islands, Sea Shepherd’s flagship M/Y Steve Irwin…

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2018

December 26, 2018

2018

Japan announces the end of whaling in the Southern Ocean. On December 26th, 2018, the Japanese government announced that it will leave the IWC and that they will cease all…

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2019

February 11, 2019

2019

Sea Shepherd’s M/Y Sam Simon arrives in France for Operation Dolphin ByCatch. Sea Shepherd’s campaign off the Atlantic Coast of France exposes the ongoing slaughter of dolphins by industrial fishing…

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2019

March 1, 2019

2019

Sea Shepherd helps clear four tons of marine debris on remote turtle nesting site. With the M/Y Bob Barker and the Jairo Mora Sandoval, Sea Shepherd and Cabo Verdean organization…

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2019

April 1, 2019

2019

Sixth Campaign for Operation Siracusa on the Italian Coast. Sea Shepherd volunteers return for the sixth year to protect the Plemmirio Marine Protected Area in Syracuse, Italy in partnership with…

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2019

May 1, 2019

2019

News Sea Shepherd launches Operation Guegou with Eco-Benin and the Government of Benin. Sea Shepherd launches its partnership with the Benin government to tackle illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing…

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2019

July 1, 2019

2019

Sea Shepherd returns to patrol Africa’s largest Marine Protected Area. Operation Albacore launches its fourth campaign to defend Gabon’s newly established marine protected areas, to detect and deter IUU fishing…

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2019

July 2, 2019

2019

Patrolling the Mediterranean for Operation Siso. Sea Shepherd returns to the Mediterranean Sea with the M/Y Sam Simon to protect Italian waters from illegal, unreported, and unregulated (IUU) fishing. Working…

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2019

July 3, 2019

2019

Sea Shepherd partners with Namibia to Combat Fisheries Crime. Operation Vanguard launches in Namibia with Namibian Ministry of Fisheries and Marine Resources (MFMR) compliance officials onboard the Ocean Warrior to…

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