Sea Shepherd Sounds Ship’s Horn to Honor Mr. Bob Barker, Beloved Ocean Champion

Sunday, 27 Aug, 2023

The Sea Shepherd ship Age of Union sounded its ship’s horn for a minute today to honor the life of ocean champion Mr. Bob Barker who passed away at the age of 99, with the crew mustered on the bridge to remember the legacy of the animal rights icon. Ships across the Sea Shepherd fleet all flew their flags at half mast.

The Bob Barker vessel joins the Sea Shepherd fleet. Photo by Sam Sielen/ Sea Shepherd.
The Bob Barker in pursuit of the poaching vessel Thunder. Photo by Jeff Wirth/Sea Shepherd.
The Bob Barker on patrol for illegal fishing vessels in the Gulf of Guinea, West Africa. Photo by Michael Rauch/Sea Shepherd Global.
The Bob Barker in port between campaigns in 2019. Photo Tony Fenn James/ Sea Shepherd Global.

While serving as the longest running host of the television game show The Price is Right, Mr. Barker signed off each episode by urging viewers to combat companion animal abandonment by saying ““Bob Barker, reminding you, help to control the pet population - have your pets spayed or neutered. Goodbye everybody!” It signalled a lifelong commitment to animal rights. He continued the plea until his last television appearance.

A U.S. Navy war veteran, Mr. Barker once again trained his sights on the seas when he generously donated the funds for Sea Shepherd to secure a ship in a bid to shutdown whaling in the Antarctic. In 2009, a ship was acquired and named in his honor. 

For six years, the Bob Barker chased the Japanese whaling fleet around the Antarctic continent. In one year, the hull plates buckled and steel rails bent, as Bob Barker sandwiched between an 8,000-ton floating whale slaughterhouse and a 5,000-ton refuel tanker, successfully preventing the former from bunkering, and forcing the whaling fleet to end their season early. 

The acquisition of the Bob Barker vessel and its addition to the Sea Shepherd fleet, marked the beginning of the end of whaling in the Southern Ocean, which ceased soon after.  

After Mr. Barker’s dream of ending whaling in the Southern Oceans was realized, his vessel continued to defend the Antarctic. 

In 2015, the Bob Barker set the world record for the longest maritime pursuit in history, chasing the most notorious poaching vessel in the world, an internationally wanted fishing vessel named Thunder, for 110 days, out of the Antarctic and across three oceans and covering 11,000 nautical miles until the captain of Thunder, sank his own ship in an attempt to destroy the evidence on board. 

The captain of Thunder later went on to say that as soon as he saw the name Bob Barker written on the hull of the ship that intercepted him, he knew that he was in trouble. 

Since then, nowhere was Mr. Barker’s name better known than among illegal fishermen. The ship that proudly carried his name would go on to apprehend dozens of other poaching vessels around the African continent saving the lives of millions of animals. The vessel was retired last year after thirteen years of loyal service. 

The Bob Barker patrolling the Mediterranean Sea on its last campaign in 2022. Photo by Daniela Beltran/Sea Shepherd Global..

“I always saw the Bob Barker vessel as an ocean-going embassy that took Mr. Barker’s message of compassion for animals to every corner of the globe, from the Antarctic to West Africa. While Mr. Barker's name is well-known to the millions of people who were entertained by his work in television, it is renowned among maritime poachers everywhere. I can’t imagine a greater legacy than countless animals saved through a lifetime of kind and generous acts, and shuttered floating slaughterhouses, shut down thanks to the kinds of direct interventions in animal suffering that Mr. Barker always made possible."

Sea Shepherd’s Peter Hammarstedt, who captained the Bob Barker for eleven years.
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