In an epic pursuit to eliminate illegal marine poaching, one unlikely band of volunteers unite to bring down the worst of them all: The Thunder.
Captain Paul Watson’s not-for-profit organization, Sea Shepherd Conservation Society, (as seen on TV) is doing the job that, so far, the governments of the world have failed to do: serve and protect our oceans from bandits who are pillaging it for millions of dollars while causing the ruin of the fragile biosystem. The new film Chasing the Thunder documents history’s longest recorded maritime pursuit (110 days), spearheaded by the now iconic ships the Bob Barker and the Sam Simon with their volunteer crew of often amateur seamen and women who do not stop until justice is fully delivered.
This true story sails the audience through more twists, turns, and tribulations than a polished Hollywood script as it plunges you into the last wild west, the open sea, where laws and ethics have more opponents than advocates. The film opens our eyes to just how vulnerable these remote ecosystems can be as international navies ignore the real ocean crooks whose transgressions are crippling marine life by overfishing in “restricted” and unpoliced waters. Were it not for the bravery of the men and women who actively extinguish these threats on their own time, unpaid and unsung, these criminals would have free reign.
Yet watching the Thunder’s rampage come to an end (in a surprise unspoiled finale) as the Bob Barker stays hot on its trail is bittersweet as New York Times’ writer Ian Urbina reminds the audience that there currently remain over 10 million illegal fishing vessels that are stripping the waters of entire generations of fish every single day. This staggering statistic sends a shock through the audience that is further echoed by Captain Watson as he reminds us that 40% of the fish we find in supermarkets and restaurants have been fished illegally – and it is impossible to know the difference…
Parley CEO Cyril Gutsch, the mastermind that brought us all together to kick off the beginning of World Ocean Week with these discussions, lets us ruminate on these hard facts before sending the harpoon through to the virtue of the film:
Cyril: We can’t hear superhero stories anymore. Marvel is a thing of the past. Sea Shepherd is the next superhero and they’re just ordinary people saving the world.
One of the attendees (and prospective Sea Shepherd volunteer) sums up why her idol will always be Captain Paul Watson:
Samantha: His values are so different from the rest of us as he puts the earth and the creatures of it before himself and others. That’s courage because it’s the last thing most people would think about because it’s usually ourselves and our kind first.
Watson’s mission to advocate so ferociously for the wildlife is not just because he likes the animals. If the oceans die, we die, is the message he has carried far and wide. Our hearts sank with the heavy realization that we’ve been doing this to ourselves all along; our appetites literally consume ocean life at an astronomical and unsustainable pace. Some figures just to think about:
-Environmentalists predict the end of most sea life within the next 6-16 years.
-More fish are eaten by housecats than by seals.
-Warehouses have stored enough tuna to serve the serve the world’s demand for the next 10 years yet we still fish them.
-One bluefin tuna sells for $75,000 and scarcity will drive that price higher.
-To farm grow one single salmon it takes 70 wild fish.
-Diminishment of biodiversity in our Ocean is the single greatest threat to the survival of humanity.
It’s sad, scary, and horrible but it’s true: under those waves which appear so ever constant, there is a catastrophe ongoing that requires our immediate action. The situation that we’re up against is so Goliath and out of proportion that it may already be irreversible but we must play our parts; not because we can beat this but because it’s the right thing to do. We came into this world naked, completely reliant on our environment, and now we’re so close to destroying the only thing that has protected us for so long. How will we forgive ourselves?
As Parley continues their work this week and beyond (list of events) we must send them all the support, luck, and spirit we have because their work is as much ours too. Let the world know you care.