Anna Greer on Peter Hammarstedt
Peter Hammarstedt risks his life for whales. Every summer for the past eight years, Peter has left the comfort of land to protect whales from a tragic death at the pointy end of a harpoon.
He has dedicated his entire adult life to the protection of the oceans and its inhabitants, patrolling the icy waters of Antarctica, the marine parks of South America and the ice floes of Canada with the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society.
Bullied through his formative years, Peter developed an affinity with the underdog and was drawn to activism as a way to defend the powerless. At just 18, he applied to join the Sea Shepherd and in the 10 years since, has steadily risen through the ranks. At the age of 28 Peter is the captain of one of four Sea Shepherd ships, the Bob Barker.
When talking about direct action, Peter’s words are a powerful clarion call, with the message that passivity is acceptance and that if we want to see a more balanced world, we must stand out ground against injustice. Underneath his youth and humour, Peter shoes great strength and a steely resolve to end whaling for good. He showed his determination during the Bob Barker’s most recent whale defence campaign, where he put his boat in between a huge whaling factory ship and its refuelling tanker.
I met Peter for the first time as a crewmember on one of the smaller ships in the latest anti-whaling campaign. There, I saw him joke around with his crew in a way that was more friend than commander, while still showing a great capacity for leadership. The vessel I was on came back earlier than the other ships, and I felt a lack of closure. When I heard that the rest of the fleet were on their way back to the homeport of Williamstown in Melbourne, I booked a flight from Sydney to welcome them home.
When I boarded the Bob and saw Peter, I could see that his vibrancy had diminished. He was tired after a gruelling and dangerous campaign.