Sea Shepherd Conservation Society

Infobox Non-profit
Non-profit_name = Sea Shepherd Conservation Society
Non-profit_type = 501(c)(3)
founded_date = 1981 in Oregon, USA
founder = Paul Watson
location = Friday Harbor, Washington, USA
origins =
key_people =
area_served = Global
product =
focus = Environmentalism, Marine conservation
method = Direct Action
revenue =
endowment =
num_volunteers =
num_employees =
num_members =
subsib =
owner =
Non-profit_slogan = "Investigating violations; Enforcing laws; Protecting marine wildlife worldwide"
homepage =
dissolved =
footnotes =
The Sea Shepherd Conservation Society is a non-profit, registered tax-exempt organization in the United States, and a registered Stichting (foundation) in The Netherlands. It is based in Friday Harbor, WA in the United States, and in Melbourne, Australia for its Southern Hemisphere operations. Members call themselves eco-pirates, undertaking campaigns that the society says are guided by the United Nations World Charter for Nature (1982) and other statutory laws protecting marine species and environments.Cite web |url= |title=Sea Shepherd mission statement |publisher=Sea Shepherd Conservation Society] The UN World Charter for Nature (UN General Assembly Resolution 37/7) directs in section 21, subsections (c), (d) and (e):

  1. States and, to the extent that they are able, other public authorities, international organizations, individuals, groups and corporations shall:
    1. Implement the applicable international legal provisions for the conservation of nature and the protection of the environment;
    2. Ensure that activities within their jurisdictions or control do not cause damage to the natural systems located within other States or in the areas beyond the limits of national jurisdiction;
    3. Safeguard and conserve nature in areas beyond national jurisdiction.
UN document |docid=A-RES-37-7 |type=Resolution |body=General Assembly |session=37 |date=28 October 1982|resolution_number=7 |highlight=rect_520,175_928,399 |page=2 |accessdate=2007-10-23] It operates a fleet of three vessels it calls "Neptune's Navy": the "RV Farley Mowat", the "MV Steve Irwin", and the "RV Sirenian", as well as several smaller boats.Cite web |url= |title=Sea Shepherd fleet |publisher=Sea Shepherd Conservation Society ]

The society was founded in 1977 by Paul Watson, one of the three founders of Greenpeace, after he concluded that "bearing witness" to environmental damage was an inadequate response compared to actual enforcement of international laws, regulations, and treaties.cite web |last=Heller |first=Peter |title=The Whale Warriors: Whaling in the Antarctic Seas |publisher=National Geographic |url= |format=HTML |accessdate=2007-02-10]

In contrast to Greenpeace, which maintains a policy of avoiding causing damage to whaling ships in the oceans, Sea Shepherd endorses a deliberate policy of sinking or sabotaging vessels they believe have violated international whaling law.cite news |last=Parry |first=Richard Lloyd |title=Whalers aid in Antarctic rescue of environmentalists |publisher=Times Online |date=2007-02-09. policy.|url= |format=HTML |accessdate=2007-02-11] As a result, Greenpeace has officially disavowed any connection to Sea Shepherd and refused to assist their efforts, stating "... we are not going to help people who have said they will use violence. We are here to save the whale, not put the lives of whalers at risk." [cite news |last=McKie |first=Robin |title=Green ships in deadly duel with whalers |publisher=The Guardian |date=2008-01-13 |url= |format=HTML |accessdate=2008-01-18]


Sea Shepherd engages in direct actions to protect such marine wildlife as seals, dolphins and whales. These have included more conventional protests, as well as, at times, scuttling and sinking fishing boats engaged in fishery operations while in harbor, sabotage of vessels in harbor, ramming the whaling ship "Sierra" in Portuguese harbor, [ [ History of Sea Shepherd Conservation Society and Whaling] ] and seizure and destruction of drift nets at sea. Sea Shepherd has also conducted an intense media campaign against Japanese high-seas whaling and the Canadian sealing industry in particular. Despite the more direct nature of such actions (as contrasted with the actions of groups such as Greenpeace), there have been few reports of injuries and no reports of deaths during Sea Shepherd actions. The most recent injury report was made by two Japanese crewmen who claim being splashed with foul-smelling butyric acid during Sea Shepherd's February 2007 action in the Ross Sea.cite news|title=Whaling acid attack terrorist act: Japan|publisher=Reuters via The Sydney Morning Herald|date=2007-02-09|url=|format=HTML|accessdate=2007-02-11] The Sea Shepherds admitted to throwing six one-litre bottles of butyric acid onto the deck of the "Nisshin Maru" although founder Paul Watson claims that none of the Japanese crew could have been harmed, saying that butyric acid is "a simple non-toxic butter acid, basically rancid butter". [cite web|title=Japanese Claims of Injuries are Bogus|publisher=Sea Shepherds|date=2007-02-09|url=|format=HTML|accessdate=2007-02-12] However, industrial safety data sheets warn of the corrosive properties of the acid, which can burn skin and eyes [cite web|title=Safety (MSDS) data for butyric acid|publisher=Safety Officer in Physical Chemistry at Oxford University|date=2005-03-03|url=|format=HTML|accessdate=2007-09-25] and harm aquatic organisms. [cite web | title=Butyric Acid data sheet | url= | publisher=International Labour Organization | accessdate=2007-12-19]

Sea Shepherd bases its actions on enforcement of international maritime law under the United Nations World Charter for Nature; however, the organization has no official mandate or authorization to enforce any legislation. Sea Shepherd was deprived of its status as an International Whaling Commission observer after sinking Icelandic vessels in 1986. In 1994, IWC Secretary Ray Gambell stated "the IWC and all its members ardently condemn Sea Shepherd's acts of terrorism." [cite web|last=Bousquet|first=Earl|title=Ocean Warriors Confront Lucian Fishermen|publisher=Government of Saint Lucia web site|date=2001-07-23|url=|format=HTML|accessdate=2007-02-11] In 2006 the outgoing Vice Chair of the IWC, Horst Kleinschmidt, joined the Board of Sea Shepherd as an advisor. Sea Shepherd is supported by private and corporate donations and operated by volunteers and paid staff, including Watson's current wife. Critics, including its targets, refer to the organization as "pirate [s] " and "terrorist [s] ", and consider Sea Shepherd's harassment of targeted fishing and resource-extraction operations to be outside the law. However, Sea Shepherd believe they have a good understanding of the law and operate openly in the UK (where Sea Shepherd UK has charity status [ [ Extract from the Central Register of Charities maintained by the Charity Commission for England and Wales] ] ) and other countries.

Until recently, countries such as Australia have hesitated to pressure Japan to stop whaling because of concerns about harming trade relations. [cite news | last=Biggs | first=Stuart | coauthors=Heath, Michael | title=Australia to Monitor Japanese Whalers in Antarctica (Update 1) | date=2007-12-19 | publisher=Bloomberg | accessdate=2007-12-19] Sea Shepherd supporters claim that small countries in the IWC that support whaling have been bought by Japanese development aid.Fact|date=February 2007 Japan is behind only the US as an aid donor. [cite web|title=Aid rising sharply, according to latest OECD figures|publisher=Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development|date=2005|url=|format=PDF|accessdate=2007-02-11] However, the former Australian environment minister, Ian Campbell, stated that the activities of Sea Shepherd "puts the cause of conservation backwards" and urged the organisation to "comply with the law of the sea and not do anything to put at risk other vessels on the high seas and therefore human life". [cite news | last=Parry | first=Richard Lloyd | title=Whaliers aid in Antarctic rescue of environmentalists | date=2007-02-09 | publisher=Times Online | url= | accessdate=2007-12-19] Despite this, Ian Campbell joined the Sea Shepherd advisory board upon retiring from politics. [cite news | title=Ian Campbell Joins the Sea Shepherd Advisory Board | date=2008-01-10 | publisher=Sea Shepherd | url= | accessdate=2008-06-23]

In the course of these operations, associates of Sea Shepherd have been threatened, endangered, imprisoned and tried for commission of crimes on the high seas including maritime piracy. Paul Watson, the founder of the group, was arrested in 1993 in Canada on charges stemming from actions against Cuban and Spanish fishing boats off the coast of Newfoundland; but he was found not guilty through relying on Canadian ratification of the UN Charter for Nature (1982).Fact|date=February 2007 In 1997, he was convicted in absentia in Norway on charges of sinking a Norwegian whaling ship, and spent 80 days in jail in the Netherlands, but he was not extradited to face new charges related to the encounter with the Norwegian Coast Guard vessel Andenes in 1994.Fact|date=February 2007 Costa Rica filed attempted murder charges against Watson for an incident after he caught a Costa Rican fishing boat poaching, but charges were dropped after prosecutors were shown a film of the incident that was shot by a team making a documentary of Sea Shepherd. [cite web |url= |title=Sharkwater synopsis and movie info |accessdate=2007-03-24 |work=Sharkwater documentary website ]

Another Animal rights activist, Rod Coronado, who has also had numerous legal problems stemming from his activism, got his start in activism with Sea Shepherd, participating in one of its best-known and most controversial actions, the scuttling of two ships from Iceland's whaling fleet while in port in 1986.

As a result of such activities, several nations, including Japan, have pressed the United States to declare Sea Shepherd a terrorist organization. However, others are more co-operative, and Sea Shepherd currently has working agreements with several countries, including Ecuador, Costa Rica, Trinidad and Tobago, and Indonesia, to help those countries fight poaching, and in the past has worked against poaching in co-operation with the United States government.Fact|date=February 2007


Sea Shepherd operations include interdiction against whaling in Antarctic waters of the Southern Ocean Whale Sanctuary of the Southern Ocean, patrols of the Galapagos Islands, and action against Canadian seal hunters. Sea Shepherd page describing their Galapagos mission.] Sea Shepherd page describing their seal mission.] Sea Shepherd has an affiliated organization, O.R.C.A. Force whose president is Watson. [ CUSP endorsers list] ]

Sea Shepherd claims to have sunk ten whaling ships since 1979, referring to these ships as "pirates". [Cite web |url= |title=Victory for the Whales in Berlin |publisher=Sea Shepherd Conservation Society |work=News Release |date=2003-16-16] The claimed attacks include:
* 1979 – the whaler "Sierra" rammed and sunk in Portugal;
* 1980 – the whalers "Isba I" and "Isba II" sunk in Vigo, Spain;
* 1980 – the whalers "Susan" and "Theresa" sunk in South Africa;
* 1986 – the whaling ships "Hvalur 6" and "Hvalur 7" sunk in Iceland;
* 1992 – the whaler "Nybraena" sunk in Norway;
* 1994 – the whaler "Senet" sunk in Norway;
* 1998 – the whaler "Morild" sunk in Norway.

In 2007, two ships operated by Sea Shepherd ("Farley Mowat" and "Robert Hunter") were struck off the shipping registers of Belize and Britain. Later on that year, the ships received the flag of the Kahnawake Mohawk nation. [cite web | url= | title=Sea Shepherd Receives the Flag of the Five Nations of the Iroquois Confederacy | publisher=Sea Shepherd Conservation Society | accessdate=2007-11-21] According to a November 2007 piece in The New Yorker, however, both ships now sail under the Dutch flag. [cite web | url= | title=Neptune's Navy | publisher=The New Yorker | ref=Page 4 of article | accessdate=2008-01-18]

In December 2007, the ship "Robert Hunter" was renamed the "Steve Irwin". [cite web | url= | title=Sea Shepherd Renames Its Whale Defending Ship the Steve Irwin | publisher=Sea Shepherd Conservation Society]



Sea Shepherd maintained a naval patrol in the Galapagos Islands to protect sea turtles and other marine wildlife, and a campaign against the 2005 seal hunt in Canada, which includes a boycott of Canadian seafood products.

Between December 2005 and January 2006 Sea Shepherd and Greenpeace vessels were in the Southern Ocean to confront Japanese whalers. Sea Shepherd declared that they would do whatever they considered necessary to prevent the whaling, even if it meant losing their ship. The "Farley Mowat" rammed a Japanese supply ship called the "Oriental Bluebird". On January 16 the organisation declared that their fuel supplies had run out and that they were heading to shore. They claimed credit for chasing the whalers from whaling grounds and hindering operations for over 15 days. [cite news|title=Whaling protest boat out of fuel|publisher=The New Zealand Herald|date=2006-01-17|url=|accessdate=2007-02-11]


In February 2007, the "Robert Hunter" and "Farley Mowat" participated in [ Operation Leviathan] by surrounding the Japanese whaling vessel "Kaiko Maru" to attempt to prevent the vessel from continuing its hunting. Sea Shepherd members threw bottles of butyric acid onto the decks of the "Kaiko Maru" and one whaler was injured by broken piece of glass and another received medical treatment for his eye. [ [ Update on Sea Shepherd Pursuit of Japanese Whaling Ship] , Mother Jones , February 09, 2007] The "Robert Hunter" and "Farley Mowat" obstructed the path of the whaling boat, [ [ 2007.2.12 Sea Shepherd rammed The Kaiko Maru] , Institute of Cetacean Research] and the "Robert Hunter" and "Kaiko Maru" collided with each other. The "Robert Hunter" suffered a three-foot gash in the hull above the waterline at the stern of the ship. [ [ Japanese whaler, anti-whaling ship collide] , China Economic Net, February 15, 2007]

In May 2007, Sea Shepherd announced that they would be sending the "Farley Mowat" to Iceland in response to that country's statement that they would be resuming commercial hunting of Fin and Minke whales. [ [ Sea Shepherd to Shut Down Illegal Whaling in Iceland] ] However, in August of the same year, Sea Shepherd stated that they no longer believed Iceland intended to follow through with the hunting, and the "Farley Mowat" did not arrive in the Icelandic waters. [ [ Operation Ragnarök Stands Down and Remains on Guard] ] [ [ Iceland whaling protest halted : Marine and Ocean Conservation News from Earthdive] ] However, in 2008, the Icelandic Fisheries Minister announced a commercial whaling quota for 40 minke whales and hunting began in May 2008.


Operation Migaloo

The recent 2007–08 Antarctic campaign was named Operation Migaloo, after the only known albino humpback in the world. [ [ Sea Shepherd - Operation Migaloo home ] ]

On January 15 2008, after attempting to entangle the hunting boat's propeller and throwing bottles of butyric acid onto the decks [ Japan to release whaling activists] , IHT/Asahi, January 17, 2008] , two Sea Shepherd members Benjamin Potts and Giles Lane from the Sea Shepherd vessel "MV Steve Irwin" boarded the Japanese whale-hunting ship "Yushin Maru No. 2" in the High Seas [cite web | url= | title=Sea Shepherd is Engaging the Japanese Fleet | publisher=Sea Shepherd | accessdate=2008-01-19] of the Antarctic Ocean, using a Zodiac inflatable boat [ [ 2008.1.15 SS vessel "Steve Irwin" terrorists attacking Yushin Maru No.2] , Institute of Cetacean Research] . The crew of the "Yushin Maru No. 2" detained the two men for illegal boarding and vandalism. Allegedly, the pair were initially tied to the railings while the ship made a deliberate turn to port, causing the two men to be dipped into the cold Antarctic water. [ [ Whaling hostages 'tied, dunked in water' - SBS World News Australia ] ] Allegedly, they were then tied to the Satellite transmitter mast for several minutes. The ICR initially denied these reports although Sea Shepherd later released photographs they claimed showed the point where Potts and Lane were tied to the Satellite transmitter mast. [] Sea Shepherd stated that the pair were attempting to deliver a letter of protest, after many hours during which the Japanese vessels refused to acknowledge any radio contact, with the news that the Japanese whale hunt in Australia's Antarctic waters and Southern Ocean Whale Sanctuary had earlier in the day been ruled illegal by the Australian Federal Court. [" [ Court rules Japan whalers breaking Aust law] " ABC News, January 15, 2008. Accessed September 19, 2008] The Japanese stated that it was the Sea Shepherd vessel who refused the radio contact, and the response from the foreign minister of Japan Nobutaka Machimura was that "The arctic territory is not at all internationally recognized. This sentence by the Australian court is based on a wrong assumption." [] Since both Sea Shepherd and Japan blamed each other for not responding to the radio contact, the two men were finally released from the Japanese ship 17 January, and were handed over to the Australian customs vessel MV Oceanic Viking. [cite web | url= | title=Anti-whaling activists handed over to Australian vessel | publisher=Japan News Review | accessdate=2008-01-17] [cite web | url= | title= Japan to release anti-whaling activists | publisher=AP | accessdate=2008-01-16] The Australian government decided to release them the same day without criminal charges because they "apparently had no intention to commit malicious crimes, such as robbery."

On March 32008 Sea Shepherd members threw bottles of butyric acid and packages of white powder onto the Japanese vessel Nisshin Maru. Three on board were injured, with one allegedly reporting acid in his eyes, according to a report in the Yomiuri Shimbun. [Yomiuri Shimbun, March 3 2008 ] . Paul Watson rejected the claims of injury "We filmed and photographed the entire thing. Not a single thing landed anywhere near their crew." and said that only bottles of butyric acid and a slippery powder were thrown by hand onto the whaling ship. [" [ Australia condemns anti-whaling protest] " The Age, March 3, 2008. Accessed September 19, 2008] The Japanese deputy foreign minister Itsunori Onodera summoned the ambassadors of the Netherlands and Australia and requested to take "immediate and appropriate actions". The Australian ambassador expressed his "sincere regret" to the incident. He also referred to the statement from the Australian foreign minister Stephen Smith who condemned any kind of violence against the Japanese crew members. [] .

Four days later on 7 March 2008 crew from the Steve Irwin again threw bottles containing butyric acid onto the decks of the Nisshin Maru. The Japanese Coastguard, reportedly armed with sidearms and rifles, responded by throwing flash grenades at the crew of the Steve Irwin, with claims by Sea Shepherd of one crew being slightly injured directly from an explosion.Andrew Darby, " [ 'Japanese shot me': protest captain] ", The Age, March 8, 2008. Accessed September 19, 2008] Paul Watson was allegedly hit by a bullet which lodged in his ballistic vest that he was wearing. David Page, the ship's doctor onboard the Steve Irwin, was filmed by Sea Shepherd crew prying a bullet from Watsons's Kevlar vest, and said "You have been hit by a bullet". [" [ Protester says Japanese whalers shot him] ", Wikinews, March 7, 2008. Accessed September 19, 2008] [" [ Protester says whalers shot him] " BBC News March 7, 2008. Accessed September 19, 2008] [" [ Sea Shepherd captain 'shot by Japanese whalers'] ", ABC News, March 7, 2008. Accessed September 19, 2008] [" [ Video: Japanese Coast Guard attack, injure Sea Shepherd crew] ", San Francisco Bay Area Independent Media Center, March 7, 2008. Accessed September 19, 2008] The Japanese denied the story of Watson and the president of the Japanese Whaling Association (to which the Japanese vessel belongs to) Keiichi Nakajima released a press comment. "Paul Watson is lying and fabricating the story." []

Concerning the events of March 3rd and 7th, despite Sea Shepherd and Japan are blaming each other and telling contradicting stories, the International Whaling Commission made a statement about the events and condemned the Sea Shepherd's actions. "The commission and its contracting governments do not condone and in fact condemn any actions that are a risk to human life and property in relation to the activities of vessels at sea." [] []

According to the Australian Foreign Affairs Minister Japan advised the Australian Embassy in Tokyo that a crew member on board the Japanese whaling vessel fired warning shots, but this was later retracted in an update press release. [" [ Incident in the Southern Ocean] " The Hon Stephen Smith MP, Australian Minister for Foreign Affairs Media release, 7 March 2008. Accessed September 19, 2008] [" [ Incident in the Southern Ocean - Update] " The Hon Stephen Smith MP, Australian Minister for Foreign Affairs Media release, 7 March 2008. Accessed September 19, 2008]

On September 17th, 2008, Tokyo Metropolitan Police Department has announced that the Interpol has put three Sea Shepherd members on an international wanted list on suspicion of interfering with Japan’s whaling activities in the Antarctic Ocean in February 12th, 2007. []

Canadian Seal Hunt

On March 29 2008 the M/V Farley Mowat and a Canadian Coast Guard ship collided while the M/V Farley Mowat was observing the Canadian seal hunts. This incident led to the arrest of the captain and first officer of the ship on April 12, 2008. [ "Sea Shepherd officers released on bail" Linda Nguyen, Canwest News Service April 14, 2008]

On April 12, 2008, during the 2008 Canadian commercial seal hunt, the M/V Farley Mowat was raided by Canadian coast guard vessels after the ship was said to have encroached on seal hunters off the coast of Newfoundland. [ [ Chronology of Events] – Fisheries and Oceans Canada.] During the raid, the captain and first officer were arrested and are awaiting charges. [ [ 2 crew members arrested as anti-sealing vessel seized] . April 12, 2008.] The location of the boat at the time of the seizure is controversial. The Sea Shepherd Conservation Society claims the boat was seized illegally in international waters. The Canadian Fisheries minister claims that the boat was seized in Canadian waters, but also that the Fisheries Act gave him authority to order the boarding outside Canada's territorial waters zone of 12 nautical miles. [ [ Crew maintain seizure broke international law] . April 13, 2008.]

The captain and first officer made a court appearance on May 1, 2008. [ N.S. court grants bail to anti-sealing activists] , CBC News, April 13, 2008] On July 2 2008, they entered a plea of not guilty to coming too close to sealers. Trial dates have not been set. [ [ Officers of anti-sealing vessel plead not guilty in N.S. court] , AOL Canada, July 2, 2008]


Sea Shepherd has been criticised for dangerous protests and cutting driftnets, and accused of piracy. Its critics include Greenpeace and the Japanese Institute of Cetacean Research. At the IWC Meetings in 2006, 2007 and 2008, the International Whaling Commission condemned Sea Shepherd's actions.


Supporters and endorsers of Sea Shepherd include well known people such as | accessdate = 2008-05-25 ] .


* Paul Watson, "Earthforce! An Earth Warrior's Guide to Strategy" (Los Angeles: Chaco Press, 1993). ISBN 0-9616019-5-7
* Paul Watson, "Ocean Warrior: My Battle to End the Illegal Slaughter on the High Seas" (1994; Key Porter Books, 1996). ISBN 978-1550135992
* Paul Watson, "Seal Wars: Twenty-five Years in the Front Lines with the Harp Seals" (2002; Firefly Books, 2003). ISBN 978-1552977514
* David B. Morris, "Earth Warrior: Overboard with Paul Watson and the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society" (Golden, CO: Fulcrum Publishing, 1995). ISBN 1-55591-203-6
* ['s.manifesto Neptune's Manifesto: How a few good pirates can save the oceans] . "Whole Earth Review," Fall 1998.
* Rik Scarce, "Eco-Warriors: Understanding the Radical Environmental Movement," second revised ed. (1990; Left Coast Press, 2005), Ch. 6. ISBN 978-1598740288

ee also

* Rod Coronado
* Animal Rights
* Environmental Terrorism
* Eco-terrorism
* Law of the Sea
* International Law Enforcement


Further reading

* [ Sea Shepherd Conservation Society]
* "The Whale Warriors" by Peter Heller "National Geographic Adventure" May 2006 Pages 58-64 and 95-100.
* [ "Sea Shepherd's Record of Violence"] at the High North Alliance
* [ "Sea Shepherd's Violent History"] at the Institute of Cetacean Research

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