After their summer campaign in the Faroe Islands to stop the slaughter of pilot whales, the Sea Shepherds made a stop to visit the seals that call their Little Holm Island home.
According to commentary by Steve Irwin ship manager James Brook, Sea Shepherd purchased the island in 1985 when the seals were in danger of being hunted and clubbed by sealers. Captain Paul Watson was able to raise 5000 pounds and bought the island to protect the seals.
On September 1, Captain Watson and the crew of the Steve Irwin revisited Little Holm, in rough waters and against a jagged rocky shore. Brook said of their day with the seals, “Paul and the crew formed an assembly line to transfer stones from the beach to form a cairn to hold a bottle containing a note signed by the Captain and our crew. After the ceremony, a couple of crewmembers went snorkeling in dry suits with the local seals that Sea Shepherd helped save. This was an awesome experience as the seals flanked on the side of each diver to watch them from behind, a classic hunting behavior. They locked eyes with the divers underwater and then surfaced at the same time as we did. It’s a fun game to surface together and then dive together almost as though we are one species.”
Before heading to London to host tours of the ship and prepare for their next Antarctic anti-whaling campaign, Operation Divine Wind, the Sea Shepherds placed a sign marking the island as the “Sea Shepherd Seal Sanctuary.” As Brook said, “with the island officially marked as a seal sanctuary, hopefully all visitors will respect this territory and allow the seals and birds to thrive in their secluded home.”