The Whale Warriors



For the crew of the eco-pirate ship the Farley Mowat, any day saving a whale is a good day to die. In The Whale Warriors, veteran adventure writer Peter Heller takes us on a hair-raising journey with a vigilante crew on their mission to stop illegal Japanese whaling in the stormy, remote seas off the forbidding shores of Antarctica. The Farley is the flagship of the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society and captained by its founder, the radical environmental enforcer Paul Watson. The Japanese, who are hunting endangered whales in the Southern Ocean Whale Sanctuary, in violation of several international laws, know he means business: Watson has sunk eight whaling ships to the bottom of the sea.

For two months, Heller was aboard the vegan attack vessel as it stalked the Japanese whaling fleet through the howling gales and treacherous ice off the pristine Antarctic coast. The ship is all black, flies under a Jolly Roger, and is outfitted with a helicopter, fast assault Zodiacs, and a seven-foot blade attached to the bow, called the can opener.

As Watson and his crew see it, the plight of the whales is also about the larger crisis of the oceans and the eleventh hour of life as we know it on Earth. The exploitation of endangered whales is emblematic of a terrible overexploitation of the seas that is now entering its desperate denouement. The oceans may be easy to ignore because they are literally under the surface, but scientists believe that the world’s oceans are on the verge of total ecosystem collapse. Our own survival is in the balance.

With Force 8 gales, monstrous seas, and a crew composed of professional gamblers, Earthfirst! forest activists, champion equestrians, and ex-military, the action never stops. In the ice-choked water a swimmer has minutes to live. The Japanese factory ship is ten times the tonnage of the Farley. The sailors on board both ships know that there will be no rescue in this desolate part of the ocean. Watson presses his enemy while Japan threatens to send down defense aircraft and warships, Australia appeals for calm, New Zealand dispatches military surveillance aircraft, the U.S. Office of Naval Intelligence issues a piracy warning, and international media begin to track the developing whale war.

For the Sea Shepherds there is no compromise. If the charismatic, intelligent Great Whales cannot be saved, there is no hope for the rest of the planet. Watson aims his ship like a slow torpedo and gives the order: “Tell the crew, collision in two minutes.” In 35-foot seas, it is a deadly game of Antarctic chicken in which the stakes cannot be higher.


“Heller’s eye-opening book….is both a riveting account of Heller’s two months aboard the small, dilapidated trawler with a ragtag group of volunteers risking their lives to incapacitate a six-boat fleet of Japanese whalers and an explanation of the politics that keep commercial whalers operating.”
The Malibu Times

“Venerated adventure author Heller’s account of the time he spent aboard the Farley Mowat as the vessel and its crew hunted the Japanese whaling fleet near Antarctica in 2005….Heller’s writing captures the very real danger of tangling with massive vessels, determined whalers, and the weather at the bottom of the world as he builds a tension-laden sea tale complete with a gallery of salt-sprayed characters….If you’re looking for a read that’s two parts high-seas swashbuckle and one part inconvenient truth, this is it.”
Surfer magazine

“Heller frequently reports from the rough edges of the world, and The Whale Warriors takes him to the environmental equivalent of a war zone….The book is a swift kick to any remaining complacency about the plight of our oceans.”
National Geographic Adventure

“Heller paints a passionate picture of the plight of the world’s oceans and the creatures who dwell within them. The book almost certainly will raise the reader’s consciousness and ire.”
Rocky Mountain News

“[Heller] does a masterful job of balancing the journalistic details of this voyage with background-sympathetic, but not fawning-on Watson and his crew members and the larger issues that Watson’s crusade raises.”
Riverfront Times (St. Louis)

“The adventure and the all-star cast of characters aside, the heart of this book is Heller’s gripping account of the world’s oceans. Aboard the Farley Mowat, Heller gains insight into the claim that if current fishing practices and pollution trends continue, ‘every fishery in the world’s oceans will collapse by 2048.'”
Sacramento News & Review

“Heller’s writing is energetic and bold, at times a swashbuckling adventure, at others a portrait of a determined eco-warrior, at others a heart-rending expose on the cruelty of whalers.”
Publishers Weekly

”A convincing, passionate account that both educates and infuriates.”
Kirkus Reviews

”An adventure more gripping than any novel.”

“Peter Heller has written a funny, angry, explosive book, which is as much high adventure at sea as it is a portrait of our relationship to the world’s oceans. You’re reminded of Ed Abbey’s explosive lyrical prose, the antics of Robin Hood, and the wry eye of John Steinbeck.If you’ve ever wondered about life aboard a ‘vegan attack vessel,’ The Whale Warriors is your ticket. Heller’s world here is so unusual, so wild, that you’d think he’d discovered it across the far-flung seas, and you’d be right.”
— Doug Stanton, author of In Harm’s Way

“There are few human beings worthy of being recognized as heroes. Captain Paul Watson and his crews are in the van, and Peter Heller gives them their well earned due. Read the book and cheer-and weep!”
— Farley Mowat

”A gripping account….I found myself holding onto the desk as he recounted 40-degree rolls….I have hundreds of whale books in my library, but this title easily earns a place in the top 10.”
The Globe and Mail

“Sometimes funny, almost always adrenaline-fueled, and often reads like a 19th-century high-seas adventure.”

“Eloquent, riveting and more than a little disconcerting….A high seas adventure tale, complete with Force 8 gales, high-speed chases, clashes with authorities, villains, fuel and food shortages and an antihero compelling and complex enough to carry the fast-paced narrative
to its ambiguous conclusion.”
Canadian Geographic