Human Interaction

Whale Wars Benjamin Potts Interview

posted: 05/15/12
interviews-benjamin-potts0
DCL |

October 2008 Interview

Please note that the views expressed are those of the interviewees and do not necessarily reflect the views of Animal Planet or Discovery Communications, Inc.

ANIMAL PLANET: Why did you join Sea Shepherd?

BENJAMIN POTTS: Years ago, I saw a documentary on Sea Shepherd and my mate and I were both, like, man, I'd love to do that one day. But, of course, I never thought I'd actually come across the organization. And then I moved to Melbourne, and I was working in Melbourne, and I saw the ship down at the dock one day. And, yeah, did a tour of it and was really sort of motivated. From then and there, that I wanted to be on that ship. So I took a year 'cause I missed that year's campaign. But they came back again to the same spot and I went to a fundraiser and I saw Paul talk. And then it was from sort of that point on that I was, like, right, everything is gonna sort of change — everything in my life — to sort of make sure I get onto that ship, and get to do this, yeah.

ANIMAL PLANET: You've said that Paul Watson is an "amazing character." Why?

BENJAMIN POTTS: It's, I guess it's his passion and, like, his dedication to the cause. And I mean the things that he's done, you know. It's not many people who have put themselves in that position and put themselves on the line, to really stand up for what they believe in. And you look for leaders out there and, you know, politicians these days don't provide any leadership. There are not many true leaders that you see, you know, on the television and in newspaper. But when you see someone like Paul, who's out there leading by example, yeah, you want to see, you know, how he does it and sort of follow the guy. Especially if you're interested in, like, environmental activism, yeah.

ANIMAL PLANET: How else would you describe Paul Watson?

BENJAMIN POTTS: I guess he's very factual. He has a lot of knowledge and I guess when you're coming from a, you know, a position where you don't know anything about the events that are happening, you know, only what you've picked up here and there. But just to have it glued together by him and taken from his perspective it's, yeah, it's inspiring.

ANIMAL PLANET: How did you end up in Melbourne?

BENJAMIN POTTS: Well, I'd sort of gone to university. I come down south to go to university and I, we talked a lot about bio-centrism and sort of environmental subjects and perspectives. And I was always frustrated because it didn't seem like we were learning any skills to change things for the better. We were just simply talking about it and I wanted to be doing something. And so I left the course and I ended up down in Melbourne. My plan was to earn some money and head down to Tasmania, where they're logging old-growth forest at the moment and destroying the place. And, yes, so I was looking to head there and I actually, I booked my trip down to Tazzy. I was ready to go when I got onto the crew. So, yeah, Sea Shepherd sort of nudged in before the other.

ANIMAL PLANET: What were you studying at university?

BENJAMIN POTTS: I was at university and I was studying Outdoor Education. And a part of that course was learning about nature's role in human society, and how we view nature. And we seemed to be doing a lot of talking about what was wrong, and why our perspective was disjointed and was leading to all these environmental problems. But there was no concrete way on how to change things for the better. Activism, in other words. And I really wanted to get into activism and put my energy into changing things.

And so I left that course and I went down to Melbourne to work and save money, to get myself down to Tasmania and become an activist in the old-growth forest down there. And, yeah, this was around the time that I sort of became aware that Sea Shepherd was in Melbourne as well. And, yeah, so I was sort of, I already bought my ticket and I was ready to go to do blockading in Tasmania, and the ship sort of nudged in for it.

ANIMAL PLANET: Oh yeah?

BENJAMIN POTTS: Yeah, I kind of came in the back door. They, the crew that was on there at the time was a skeleton crew. And it was the middle of Melbourne winter so it was freezing, and they had to do 24-hour watch, and to keep an eye on the ship to stop people from jumping on board. You know, it was in a busy part of the city. So it was right near a big stadium and people would come flooding out from the football and, you know, pretty rowdy; throw bottles and trying get on board the ship. And so, yeah, they had someone on gangplank watch the whole time. And, yeah, I just put my hand out for that and started doing that in addition to working. So I'd come down after work and sit out for four hours, you know, during the middle of the night and then sleep on the ship and go to work the next day, yeah. And so I did that for a few months and just sort of coming down on weekends. And I'd chip in; rust off the boat and repaint and stuff, and generally sort trying to get my foot in the door.

ANIMAL PLANET: Did you know what you were getting yourself into?

BENJAMIN POTTS: Yeah. Well, I didn't know. I certainly, I didn't know I was going to be on the campaign until, you know, at least four months later. At which stage we'd taken the ship down to Tasmania, down to the shipyards down there and taken it up out of the water, painted it, cut a huge stabilization tank off the back. And, yeah, so I'd, by that stage I'd moved onto the ship. I was working for a caterer in Melbourne, cooking food and delivering it. And because I was also, you know, working on the ship as well, I was turning up late and a bit sleep deprived. And I really know, as people, and their understanding but it got to the point where they fired me. And so, at that stage, I moved out of my house and I moved onto to the ship and started doing that full-time. I had a house in Melbourne that I was sharing with two other guys. I was just renting a room there. And I had a girlfriend, as well. And so, yeah, sort of leaving all that behind, and but my girlfriend was quite understanding.

ANIMAL PLANET: Was it hard to leave your girlfriend?

BENJAMIN POTTS: Yeah, it was hard to leave my girlfriend in Mel. She, I mean she supported, totally supported what I was doing because she saw right from... She came to that fundraiser night with me and saw how excited I was. And then just that was my whole focus from then on there. So she knew I really wanted to do it and so she supported me in that way. But she also was, like, oh, you know, he's leaving me for... You know. Initially it was going to be a couple of months. But then I thought, well, you know, what happens if we end up in another country after the campaign? It could potentially be the end of our relationship or, you know, or years. So, yeah, we had a few nights there where it was, like, whoa, you know, this might probably be the end of it. We said goodbye a lot of times.

ANIMAL PLANET: Was joining Sea Shepherd a positive move for you?

BENJAMIN POTTS: Well, yeah, it's been... I've been looking for this for years, six, seven years. You know, ever since I got out of high school. I was also, I was always concerned about, you know, what was happening with the world and particularly with the environment. And, but I couldn't find anywhere to, you know, to put my energies into, to where I felt, like, I was making a difference. And that was extremely frustrating for me. And so, you know, I went from job to job and I moved, you know, all over Australia.

Yes, so I guess finding Sea Shepherd and environmental activism, not to Sea Shepherd, but, you know, the whole group of activists, it felt like coming home. It felt like I'd finally found people that I could relate to, that these people are interested in things that I was interested. And, yeah, it was a good feeling, yeah. I loved it. I was just, like, this is the best thing I've ever been on. I had this big black ship

ANIMAL PLANET: So you liked the ship?

BENJAMIN POTTS: Yeah, the first time I stepped on board the ship for the tour, I was just, like, ah, this is where I want to be. I loved it. Big black ship, you know. It held a lot of possibilities and, yeah, I was pretty excited from that point onwards.

ANIMAL PLANET: Was this your first time at sea?

BENJAMIN POTTS: Yeah, I had never been to sea before. After that benefit gig, I was, like, right. That's it. I'm gonna go get sea experience, some sea time, because I thought I'd need, you know, like, a fair bit of experience to be on crew. So pretty much that week, I flew to Japan. I had some friends in Japan and they were bringing a boat back to Australia, down through Micronesia, past New Guinea. And so, yeah, I decided to fly over there and join them for that trip. So, yeah, the people I was working for let me go and, like, so I just took off. I left Mel again.

The irony of the story is that I flew to Japan, flew into Tokyo, spent 12 hours going down to this little fishing village, on an island off the coast of Japan. Got onto these boats and these boats, there was two of them, and they were falling apart. And they were 50 feet long, tiny, like, motor cruises and one wasn't working. And this guy who was a charter boat fisherman from Queensland was pretty desperate to get these things back to Australia. And we were, like, we can't take this boat out to sea. Like, it's not even working. You know, you're gonna get us all killed. So we talked to him into fixing it. And so we ended up in Japan for... We were supposed to leave as soon as we got there, and we ended up there for months, and fixing these boats and living in this little Japanese fishing village. And that was really cool.

ANIMAL PLANET: What was the crew like?

BENJAMIN POTTS: Yeah, I guess it was rather surprising when I got on board and got to learn the crew that were on there. And they were all new, as well, so and very young. Like, a lot of, you know, 18, just out of school, hadn't really worked many jobs before. And I mean, I'd been in the workforce for 10 years and I'd done a whole range of things, from, you know, construction to military, to outdoor sort of guiding and work like that. And so I was used to working with my hands and working in those types of environments. So, yeah, it was a bit of a shock to find out that, you know, I guess I had a touch more experience than most of the other people.

ANIMAL PLANET: What was your first job as a Sea Shepherd?

BENJAMIN POTTS: My first job was as chief cook because I'd been working in catering and they knew that. And I think they were having, Sea Shepherd was having trouble filling that position, 'cause it's quite a difficult task to undertake. Food is really important on the ship and everyone likes to eat nice food. And when you're stuck out at sea it's sort of... It's one of the highlights of the day. So, yeah, they stuck me in the kitchen. Well, the galley, I should say. But I was happy to be there. So I was happy to do anything. And it was good learning experience, as well, 'cause I was really interested in learning to cook vegan food. And the previous cook, chief cook, Roberta, was on board and she was awesome, really nice food. And so she, yeah, she taught me a few things before we left.

ANIMAL PLANET: Was it a tough transition for you?

BENJAMIN POTTS: No, it wasn't a hard shift because I started looking into veganism and the motivations behind some of the crew members who were fairly, you know, sort outspoken vegans, and reading the literature, and watching the videos. And, yeah, I mean it was shocking to see some of the animal rights videos. And, you know, you never want to touch another bit of, another animal, sort of again. So that's a pretty good motivating factor and it's not that hard. You know, I didn't eat eggs before. I didn't really drink milk and about cheese was the only thing that I still wanted to eat. So, yeah, the transition wasn't too hard. And the hardest part, I think, of changing your diet is knowing what to eat, and knowing how to cook it. And when you've got, like, a person who's a vegan who's a chef there teaching you, it makes it a lot easier. Yeah.

ANIMAL PLANET: What was it like stepping on the ship for the firs time?

BENJAMIN POTTS: Hmm. Initially, you know, stepping on board the vessel, you're nervous that you're not gonna know what to do. You're gonna do the wrong thing, you're gonna ____ something up. And, yeah, all those thoughts run through your head and you wonder how you're gonna perform under pressure. And, you know, are you gonna get seasick? You know, how are you gonna handle... How are you gonna be able to handle cooking in those sort of conditions? And so, yeah, all those thoughts and doubts are running through your head. And it's just something, you know... I was more motivated to get down there and do the job, so that over rode any doubts I had.

ANIMAL PLANET: Were you scared?

BENJAMIN POTTS: I guess all that fear had come, for me, it came out earlier. I mean, by the time the ship was leaving dock I'd gotten over all that. Just the fear of being, you know, injured. Or, you know, maybe not coming back. And so I tried to say my goodbyes to Mel. And, you know, she got upset and I got upset. And I didn't say so much to my family because I didn't want to worry them too much. But Mel, you know, with your girlfriend you sort of talk about all your fears and everything else. So, yeah, we had a chat about that, you know, on more than one occasion. So by the time we left the dock I was pretty prepared in my mind to do whatever I had to do.

ANIMAL PLANET: Did you feel like you knew what to expect?

BENJAMIN POTTS: Yeah, well, I guess each journey and each campaign, you know, a lot of unexpected stuff happens and you can't really plan for what might happen. I'd seen the videos and I'd seen previous, like, documentaries on previous Sea Shepherd campaigns. And I'd see the rammings and, you know, and them being shot at and, you know, attacked by sailors with big hacker picks. And, you know, you start to think, well, how am I gonna react in that situation? What happens if I get hurt, you know? And am I gonna fold or am I gonna be aggressive? Or, yeah, you think, I spent a lot of time thinking about all that stuff. And I was just really determined to, you know, I'd finally found this niche that I was looking for, and I just wanted to throw myself into that, like, fully.

ANIMAL PLANET: Did you have a lot of interaction with Paul?

BENJAMIN POTTS: Yeah, I guess after seeing Paul's speech, like, just seeing, you know, you were like, oh, wow. Here's this leader and in this movement, and then when you get on board the ship you don't see Paul. He's not there. And so, you know, when is Paul gonna get here and stuff, you know? Do this. Do that. Do this, you know. And so I was still waiting for that and, you know, the campaign rolls around. We leave at dark and Paul gets there, you know, a couple of days before. But we still don't see him. And, you know, we get out to seas and don't really see much of Paul, you know. He sort of directs his commands through other people, and didn't really have much one-on-one or, you know, any contact with him for a while there. And so, yeah, it was sort of bit strange. But then when the confrontations are on, you see where, when Paul comes into his own. You know, when he's on the phone for 48 hours, 72 hours talking to media. And, yeah, it's quite amazing to watch. Yeah.

And I think the reason you don't see Paul is he can't be everywhere. He can't be commanding the deck and the galley. You know, he's got people to do that for him. And, I guess, with his interactions with the crew it's more on a social level. Like, he's down at the mess when we're eating and he's telling stories about this and that, and everyone is sitting around sort of, you know, like, oh, what's he gonna to say next? And, yeah, and so you get to know him on that level when he's sort of like a, I don't know, he's a bit of a father figure. And, you know, he's got that experience and he's got so many great stories. And most of the crew had read his books and so, yeah, you want to know all about the stories in his books. And then, but more on a working basis, you're in charge, you know. You're the one that's all sort of responsible of, you know, whatever department you're in. And so, yeah, that places a great amount of onus on you to do your job, to help other people do theirs, and to really work as a team.

I think when you've got a leader who does everything it makes the crew slack because, you know, they don't have to pull their own weight, because the guy in charge is doing it. The guy up front is doing everything for them. So, with Paul, you know, that's not the case, you know. You really left to your own devices to figure things out. I mean if there's a problem, yeah, you can go ask him but otherwise it's just, you know, you run your part of the ship.

ANIMAL PLANET: Did you have an idea of what Paul was going to be like before joining Sea Shepherd?

BENJAMIN POTTS: Oh, I guess I didn't really have much of an idea of who Paul was on a personal level. You know, he's obviously got this huge reputation. And certainly in a lot of instances he lives up to that. But on a personal level I found him, you know, just really quite funny. Like, he has a really good sense of humor and he's always joking around. And, yeah, I guess when you think of authority you think of someone who's not mucking around, who's not making jokes. And, you know, you think of a boss, you know. But he wasn't a boss. He was, you know, he was more, you know, just like a mate. And but he's got a lot of responsibility on his shoulders and you want to help him out, by, like, doing your bit. So...

ANIMAL PLANET: What is Sea Shepherd?

BENJAMIN POTTS: Hmm. Sea Shepherd is a direct action organization so when they go out they're there to stop the killing of whales, stop the marine environments being harmed or, you know. And the tactics that are, you know, used are pretty in your face, and that's because they get results. I mean that's the reason Paul left Greenpeace. You know, you can fly banners as much as you want and you can talk to people, but they're not gonna change until you give them a kick up the ass. So...

ANIMAL PLANET: What happened with the helicopter blade?

BENJAMIN POTTS: Okay. Well, yeah, I mean hitting a helicopter blade with that sort of force. I mean it wasn't a lot of force. But if you can probably liken it to getting a sledgehammer and walking out to a normal aircraft and hitting the wing, with a sledgehammer. And I mean the gas is not sledgehammer. It's a bamboo pole. And I was just hoping I'd hit it with a bit of bamboo 'cause it's got a metal hook on the end. You know, I was like, oh, please. I hope I haven't hit it with a metal hook. And, you know, had a look at the blade and it had, like, a little nick.

And we'd just finished inspecting those same blades and we'd found a nick. And Chris and I had gone through and tested. There's a stress test for damage on that sort of part of the aircraft. And we'd found that this nick was, you know, it was okay so we put the blade on. And it was exactly the same blade that I'd hit. So I was like, oh, at least it's not one of the other blades. But this is substantially bigger, a bigger dent than the other one. So, yeah, I was really upset and I was like, oh, God. You know, I've got to go and tell Chris now that, you know, I've destroyed his bloody helicopter. And I thought it wouldn't be fine again. And so, yeah, my heart sunk. I was ready to jump overboard myself.

ANIMAL PLANET: Why is it a big deal if the helicopter isn't working?

BENJAMIN POTTS: Yeah, so if the helicopter is not working it means we can't reconnaissance flights. Which means, you know, we might, we probably might not find the Japanese fleet. We don't have aerial footage. You know, it's almost as bad as if you, you know, went off and hit the radar with a baseball bat and knocked the radar off, you know. It's your eyes in the sky. So, yeah, I was freaking out. And, but, you know, I was just trying to remain calm 'cause there's still all this stuff in the water. And I finished what we were doing and then I went straight down to see Chris and told him what happened.

And I mean he was, he let out a few curses, like a few things I can't say on camera. But he was pretty good about it. He was like, right, let's go have a look. And we grabbed the ladder and he was like, oh, jeeze, I don't know. Like, you know, this could be really bad. And sort of from there on end we just, we were in contact with the mechanics back in Melbourne, the Melbourne Airport, and trying to find out if the thing was flyable. So...

ANIMAL PLANET: Explain how it was dangerous for the crew of the Zodiac when it flipped over.

BENJAMIN POTTS: If someone goes into the water down there then they've only got a matter of minutes, before their body core temperature will drop to a point where it's gonna be really hard to reheat them. You know, if you've got a dry suit on you can survive for, you know, 24 hours-plus. A dry suit is something that's sealed, completely sealed. You don't get wet at all. The guys that went into the water had Mustang suits on, which have some insulation but they're open at the neck. They're open at the feet. They're open at the hands. So the water can flow through them and it acts as a kind of wetsuit.

ANIMAL PLANET: Tell us about how and why you volunteered to board the Japanese vessel.

BENJAMIN POTTS: Well, I was working on the helicopter deck at the time that they're having the meeting. And I knew that there was a meeting on, but Chris and I were putting the helicopter to bed, and putting the covers on it. And so I came down late into the meeting when they were asking for volunteers to board the Japanese ship. And yeah, I came through the door and I sort of found out what the meeting was about. And the next thing I know, Peter Brown's grabbing my hand and putting it in the air. And I knew what was going on. And like I'd already made the decision way before that, that if anything like that was happening, I wanted to be involved.

And Giles and I had talked about boarding the ship prior to that and taking the idea to Chris, who was just like, you're not doing it on my helicopter. We wanted to repel off the helicopter onto the deck. I don't know if I can say that, that's probably, yeah. But anyway, so yeah, Peter Brown put my hand up and I was like, yeah, sure, what are we going to do? Are we going to board the... There was a Japanese ship down there that was full of university students, the Peace boat.

And so I was just walking around and I was like, oh, are we going to board the Peace boat and all going to have a party? You know , they were like, no, we're talking about something slightly different. And yeah, but I mean I had already thought about it. And I was already, it was already... I was there to do something more than just cook three meals a day, you know. And so, yeah, they were talking about boarding a harpoon boat. Well, boarding a Japanese ship, but there was only one type of ship that you can get on board really, and that's the harpoon vessels, because they're constructed in a manner that the deck goes right down to the water line.

So yeah, as soon as I found out about that I went straight off the bridge. And I'd already studied all the photos of the harpoon boats and where we could get on. And so it was yeah, just going over all the pictures we had and trying to figure a way of, you know, was it actually possible? And then again, it was like I don't think Sea Shepherd's ever seen a harpoon boat. Like our vessels, the Steve Irwin, which is faster than the Farley Moet. It still only does half the speed of what those harpoon ships can do. So it was like, well, you know, if we get close enough to one, then yeah, I'll be up for it, because it will be a pretty rare occurrence and a good opportunity. As far as what we were going to actually do when we got on board, that was a whole another fish to kill.

ANIMAL PLANET: Were you nervous about it?

BENJAMIN POTTS: Yeah, I was nervous, but I guess I was more excited about actually doing something, about getting out there and doing what we came to do, and that's trying to hold the Japanese from whaling. And I could see the potential for us to actually have a measurable effect, you know, by boarding that vessel and tying up the Japanese. You know, I mean we didn't know what their reaction was going to be and whether they'd stop whaling, or what we could do. But you know, it was better than doing nothing, you know. We can chase them, but that boat could outrun us easily. So if we could manage to get on board, then probably, there was a good chance that it was going to slow them down, you know, if only for a matter of hours.

ANIMAL PLANET: Was the captain of the harpoon ship angry?

BENJAMIN POTTS: Yeah, he was. The captain was yelling in Japanese. But you could sort of figure out what he was saying. The second officer who spoke some English, like he spoke English, but sort of broken English, yeah.

ANIMAL PLANET: What was it like being on the harpoon ship?

BENJAMIN POTTS: Yeah, I guess the adrenaline was still up at that stage. And there were, we were probably getting a bit tired as well. Like, but, yeah, it was sort of just, once again we were tied up. But it was really loose. And we were kind of like, you know, what are they gonna do with us. I guess for us, we kind of expected a confrontation. And so we were prepared for that. And, you know, we imagined ourselves getting onto the vessel, going up to the captain and speaking to him with some authority in that they were acting illegally and we were asking them to leave. So, we took on that role. And that carried on. So, we were sort of, you know, speaking to them in a rather stern voice. And just simply like "we have a message for the captain," pointing at them. You know, "we've got a message for you" and trying to get it out. I tried to pull it out of my vest before, but they kept knocking my hand away from that area, so.

ANIMAL PLANET: Could you have escaped?

BENJAMIN POTTS: Yeah, and, you know, while I was tied up as well, down on the lower deck, you know, I had a (unintelligible) as well 'cause we had, we've got lines in boat and if you get tangled up and then up in the water you could end up drowning. So, I had a safety line to cut myself out of that sort of stuff. And I could reach it and I could have cut myself out of that rope. And, you know, but that (unintelligible) we always had the consideration that we didn't want to be aggressive. And like that could be construed as violent if they see a knife out. Not that it doesn't have a pointy end or anything like that, but, you know, the, it's still a knife. So, I didn't do that, didn't touch that. You know, when they saw me trying to pull the letter out they knocked my hand as well. So, yeah, well, I mean, we were, we certainly weren't on the back foot or shying away from them. We were certainly not trying to be aggressive or act in any way that they could construe as violent. But we weren't shying away from them either. We were being quite confrontational and quite in their face as well and trying to deliver this message to the, to their captain.

ANIMAL PLANET: What did the captain do?

BENJAMIN POTTS: He storms off into the bridge. And then at that stage the second officer's talking to us. And, yeah, I'm giving the message to him. And, yeah, it's hard to recall. But I think we're tied to that mast for a number of minutes. And they're obviously trying to figure out what to do with us. By then they made the decision to take us inside. And they untied me first and walked me into like a rear hatch into the back of the bride there. And like I sort of, as soon as they untied my hands I put them up in the air. And then they walked me in there. They took me through the bridge and then straight downstairs into a like a communications room. There was a photocopier, there were a couple portholes at the table. And they sat me down at the table. They brought Giles in behind me. And as he was coming through the bridge, the captain was so furious that he, you know, pushed him. He like, he shoved him up against the wall. And then they let Giles down. And sat, we sat around this table. And two of the crew members came in, well, a young guy and the second officer. And we started to engage in a conversation with the second officer in fairly broken English. You know, they started out by asking our names, where we came from, what nationality. We could still, there were a couple portholes in there. And we're getting up and having a look out the port holes and we could see that the boat's still there. And we're talking to each other. Yeah, they took our packs off us. And they sort of did a semi-search of those and went through the contents. They'd already taken the camera off me down on that lower deck.

ANIMAL PLANET: What about the letter?

BENJAMIN POTTS: Yeah, we talked about the letter in that we, we told them that we were there to deliver that message. They then attempted to take photographs of us and film us. And we were like no photos, trying to block them from taking photos and trying to get them to stop filming us. And they did kind of stop that. They kind of moved outside the doorway and were filming in through the doorway. We then took, I mean, we were really hot. We had wetsuits on, you know, and just being sort of in a bit of physical struggle. So, we took our, some gear off. Like I took my harness off and took my jacket off and tried to take, well, Giles took his wetsuit off and everything. And we just sort of sat at the table and were just waiting to see what happened, what happens, yeah.

ANIMAL PLANET: What happened?

BENJAMIN POTTS: And, yeah from there we asked for some water. And they brought us water. And they brought us something to eat. As they're handing us the water they were like, you know, it's not poisoned. It's not poisoned. Giles was like, oh, really? I hadn't thought about that. And I, that's the other thing. I pulled my, they gave my backpack back to me. And I pulled my Japanese phrase book out. And I looked up, and I'm looking for an expression to say. I'm like what the hell am I gonna say here. You know, I can't say that. I can't say this. So, I found mine. I was like excuse my (terrible) English in Japanese. And they must have understood what I said because the second officer was like, yeah, excuse my, oh no, I said excuse my (terrible) Japanese. And he said excuse my (terrible) Engrish (sic). Yeah, so that kind of broke the ice. And like I guess they were, they were pretty freaked out, freaking out up until that stage. And then they sort of like, oh, OK, these guys are just here to talk to us.

So, yeah, while we were tied on to the side of the ship, I mean, it was obvious that the Japanese were reacting, so overreacting to what our intentions were. And, you know, while we're tied up I like, you know, what's gonna happen to us, you know? You know, what are these guys doing? And at the same time we knew this was all getting captured on film. And that, you know, it was probably not looking great for them. So, as far as media attention, we both knew that this was probably gonna do it. And more than we could ever have imagined, you know? Just boarding the vessel and handing over a letter and then getting off, you know, that's not much. But these, we were tied, now tied up. They tried to throw me overboard. There was this whole high seas drama unfolding. So, yeah, it was, we were like OK, this is going alright as far as we're concerned, yeah.

ANIMAL PLANET: Were you eager to get off the ship?

BENJAMIN POTTS: Well, once we'd been untied and taken into the ship, OK, we were like well, you know, we've come here. We've given the message. Now, let's get out of here 'cause, you know, we've done what we sought to do like more than we could possibly have, you know, even anticipated. And, you know, we thought that was a pretty good effort and that, you know, why risk being taken prisoner and taken back to Japan if, you know, we've done what we achieved to set out to do, you know?

ANIMAL PLANET: Was it a life-changing experience for you?

BENJAMIN POTTS: Yeah, taking part in this campaign and in the boarding had totally changed my life. It's given me the drive and the motivation to, you know, step out there and stand up for what I believe in. And particularly with the environmentalism to, you know, to voice, to have a voice. It's given me a platform to go out and talk about these issues to people. And people want to know about it, you know? And especially when you can tell them a story like this then you can go on and tell them about, you know, the other stuff that's maybe not as, that is important as the whales as far as the general public is concerned. But, you know, shark finning, you know, drift netting and all the horrible stuff that's happening to the oceans and it's causing them to collapse. You know, there's ecosystems collapsing. So, it's giving me that platform. And it's giving me the desire to go out and learn more about it myself. You know, I've, I'm starting a university course in marine biology. And I want to continue activism and working with Sea Shepherds. So, it's been a huge, it's sort of really set my like path. It sent me on a path in my life that I can see going on for a long time. And giving me the opportunity to make change for the better in, where I live and in this world. Yeah.

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