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Whale Wars: Exclusive Interview with Pilot Chris Aultman

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Daryl Hannah joins the crew this time around. Did having a celebrity onboard (outside of Captain Paul Watson) change the crew dynamics at all?

We have had many celebrities on board our ships over years. Daryl was great and was well liked by the crew. She quickly became one of the crew and even made dinner for us one evening!

Is she really a mermaid?

Sadly, no.

During the fifth episode of last season you, when the ship docked for repairs, you remained behind due to helicopter corrosion. How difficult was it to make that decision?

This was a necessary decision but it was very difficult for me to inform the Captain that he would be returning without me. We have since solved the corrosion issue by constructing a new heli-deck and hanger on the stern of the Steve Irwin which protects the helicopter.

Are you and the chopper a packaged deal? Could you have continued on with the crew?

I have two jobs at Sea Shepherd: Aviation Director and Campaign Coordinator. Besides being a pilot, I am responsible for the logistical support for our helicopter and the Steve Irwin . When I made the decision to not to return with the helicopter on the second leg of Operation Migaloo, I returned home and supported the ship remotely during the rest of the campaign. I also worked with our maintenance base in Melbourne to get the helicopter ready to return to sea again.

Life on the Steve Irwin looks pretty treacherous flash bombs, crew members taken hostage, and Captain Paul Watson being shot. Is there any part of that experience that doesn’t translate on TV?

I think that the show is accurate in its portrayal of life at sea on board the Steve Irwin. Every moment is not exciting however and we all have our own routines to get us through the slow days. Everyone is different in this regard but we all find a way.

You guys have been called everything from eco-terrorists to pirates in the press. Has your reception by the general public reflected that at all?

The Australian people have been the most supportive by far. It never ceases to amaze me how much support we receive there. That said, we have supporters all over the world that are just as loyal. Without them, we would not be able to go to sea.

When the campaign’s over, what’s the first thing you do when you get home?

I get in my Jeep and go camping in the high desert with my family.




11 comments
  1. Jason Barrette

    My passion is to be part of the sea shepard on whaling and as a helicopter I am rated in the helicopter that is use and would love to be part of the campaign. Please could someone contact me at (504) 715-8193. If I can be useful with my flight training and ability yo fly helicopters and fix wing air planes. I am here, use me

  2. Ed Davis

    EXCELLENT WORK CHRIS (AND SEA SHEPARD CREW) — THE SHOW IS AWESOME, THE CAUSE IMPORTANT. I will NEVER forget the footage of the two whales (obviously they knew each other, traveling side by side) swimming for their lives before being harpooned in the back – then the bloody dead whale being hoisted up for slaughter – IT WAS MONSTEROUS – and I am truly ashamed of our lack humanity. If I did not feel strongly and passionately about “saving the whales” before, I do now. WHERE CAN I MAKE A CASH DONATION TO THE SEA SHEPARD TO HELP CONTINUE ON WITH THE MISSION? KEEP UP THE GOOD WORK SEA SHEPARDS! – PHOENIX ARIZONA LOVES YOU GUYS!

  3. Meg

    I was wondering Chris, did you ever do anything with Border Patrol or immigration? You seem really familiar to my family.

    Thanks,
    Meg

  4. bob smyth

    I am surprised that a former member of the military became an eco-terrorist. You people make more problems than you stop. I only hope none of the young naiave crew members are mamied or worse by following the cowardly watson’s direction. Greenpeace kicked him out, I hope the Dutch de-register the steve irwin. Please do the right thing let the professionals handle the illeagal activities of the Japanese whalers. You eco-terrorists are a joke and you are going to go to far when one of the crew members ends up in the mourge.

  5. Hart Ryan Noecker

    I was really surprised that Chris and so many other crew members were former military or police. Really breaks the stereotype that people trained to use violence to attain their goals aren’t all ignorant of the plight of our planet.

  6. Keith Wald

    Hi Chris,
    I hope you actually read this.
    I really admire what you are doing, and I mean specifically you as the helicopter pilot. Sailing alone in that environment is hell-a dangerous. Flying alone in that environment is hell-a dangerous. You’re doing both, so do the math: hell-a hell-a dangerous! In fact, your personal risk levels are completely unimaginable.
    For f**k’s sake man, please be careful out there!!
    Keith

  7. Terry

    What you guys do is fantastic. I watch Whale wars on Animal Planet and it has really opened my eyes to the plight of the Whales. You are out there putting your life and freedom at risk to protect those that can not protect themselves from the.
    If left unchecked Humans will destroy this planet for their own greed.It really gives a new meaning to altruism. Keep up the good work.

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