Fethiye times took a trip to Marmaris to catch up with the Captain of the iconic Greenpeace flagship – the Rainbow Warrior.
Known for their headline grabbing stunts to raise public awareness of environmental and ecological damage that modern mankind is subjecting this fragile plant to, it was surprising to see the vessel lying quietly against the main town marina in Marmaris, holding a fairly low key press conference.
Top of their agenda for this tour is the rapidly diminishing fish and marine reserves of the Mediterranean and particularly the plight of the endangered Bluefin tuna. During this two week visit to Turkish waters there have, of course, been the hard hitting demonstrations for which the Greenpeace activists are renowned.
In Izmir two swimmers entered the water and laid buoys and ‘crime scene’ tapes around cages holding large Bluefin tuna that had been caught and were now caged, to be fattened up by so called ‘Fish Farms’ before being sold on to export markets.
The ship herself is an impressive sight, at a shade over 55 meters long. She was originally built in 1957 and began life as a fishing trawler off the coast of Scotland. She later became a tender and accommodation ship for crews being taken to and from the oil rigs in the North sea, so it is not without a certain irony that her destiny was to become the second incarnation of the Rainbow Warrior.
The ship’s name was inspired by a North American Indian prophecy which foretells a time when human greed will make the Earth sick, and a mythical band of warriors will descend from a rainbow to save it. The original Rainbow Warrior was controversially bombed and sunk by the French in 1985 in Auckland, New Zealand, where she had been protesting against nuclear weapons testing in the Pacific Ocean.
We caught up with her Captain, Mr Derek Nicholls, to find out more about the ship and what their plans were for this tour.
Mr Nicholls, originally from Wales, had relocated to New Zealand and became one of her captains when the Rainbow Warrior (II) was launched under her new identity in 1989.
“I’ve been with her since day one”, Mr Nicholls told us, “and we’ll have her for another year or two before she is replaced with a new ship which is currently being commissioned.”
The ex-trawler has undergone a few changes since Greenpeace took her on and has been fitted out to allow her to travel under sail, when possible, to reduce the environmental impact of their own activities.
“We’ve been busy on this tour concentrating on marine reserves of the Med and doing marine research on sea debris and sea bed damage. Regardless of how far out into the world’s oceans we go, we find sea debris everywhere – mainly plastic, it’s incredible, even in the middle of the Indian Ocean! All our data and findings are sent back to analysts in the UK where it is collated, interpreted and reported.”
Sitting on the busy town centre marina, the presence of Greenpeace and the ship was causing a fair degree of interest amongst locals and tourists alike.
John and Bert, on holiday from Belfast, were keen to get their photos taken next to ship, “It’s great to see here her,” they told us “Greenpeace is the symbol of the struggle of individuals against governments and industry who seek to profiteer from the resources of the planet with little regard for the damage it may be causing.”
It was a quick overnight layover at Marmaris before the Rainbow Warrior set sail again, continuing with research and campaigning as she heads across the Med to Lebanon before she returns back to Piraeus.