A whale of a time

What makes 28-year-old mariner Siddarth Chakravarty any different from others of his ilk? For this third generation native of Maharashtra, India, the difference was a simple choice. After a decade-long stint working with shipping companies, Siddharth decided to take his career down a different route.  He joined the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society, an organization dedicated to preventing the destruction of habitat and slaughter of wildlife in the world’s oceans.  Here, he will be the first mate and ship’s manager for a crew of 40 people on board the Steve Irwin, charged with the mission of stopping a Japanese whaling fleet in the waters of the Southern Ocean.

Siddharth’s main task will be to find the fleet’s factory ship, the Nisshin Maru, and prevent any whales being dragged onto it. “The aim is to bring an end to so-called scientific whaling and protect the southern hemisphere’s whale population from further slaughter. SSCS wants to permanently end illegal whaling in the Southern whale sanctuary which is protected by an international moratorium.”

A course that is charted through some of the most fearful, inhospitable territories, the mission is one that is loaded with challenges, cold climate not-withstanding.  “We will be extremely prepared this year. Every year we have managed to stun the Japanese with new tactics and tricks and we have some waiting for them this year as well."

When asked why he chose this path for himself, Siddharth shares this, “I felt conflicted by the consummate callousness of the shipping industry which manifests itself most clearly in the pollution of the waterways, arising out of commercial shipping operations, and accidental discharge from ships which, in turn, have crippling effects on marine life.”

While contributing to the greater good may have its moment in the spotlight, Siddharth admits to his family back home, having a tough time coping with his choice in career. “As a volunteer with Sea Shepherd, I have spent all my savings in order to be here and without the financial support from my mother, I wouldn’t have been able to make it. My family understands the risks I’m taking and the ultimate goal I’m striving to achieve.”

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