LOS ANGELES – Sea Shepherd founder Paul Watson said Tuesday he had joined his antiwhaling fleet on its Antarctic campaign one month after the conservation group sought to divert attention from its fugitive leader by announcing fake plans to confront Japanese whalers in the Northern Pacific.
Watson, 62, was picked up by the group’s flagship at an undisclosed location in the South Pacific on Dec. 2, he said from the vessel via Skype, in his first interview with a Japanese media organization since going into hiding after jumping bail in Germany in July.
“We put out a release saying we were going towards Japan,” said Watson. “And that was a deception really.” He said it was a ruse to explain the ship’s detour to pick him up.
On Nov. 5, the group said that its flagship, the Steve Irwin, left Australia to confront whalers in waters near Japan before they arrive in the Antarctic Ocean.
“And it was sort of amusing to see the Japanese Coast Guard mobilized and saying they were ready to defend Japan like we were going to attack it,” Watson said.
He said the ship is now heading south to wait for the whalers in the Antarctic Ocean. Watson said he has mostly been at sea since he left Germany in July.