Connecting with us from Costa Rica, Pete Bethune has committed his life to wildlife conservation. Following his world record journey circumnavigating the world on a bio-fuel driven trimaran, Pete joined forces with Sea Shepherd in their fight to prevent whaling in Antarctica. When Earthrace became low on fuel a Japanese whaling vessel took the opportunity to ram the boat with Pete and his crew still onboard which ultimately led to its sinking. Following this, Pete boarded the Japanese vessel in a bid to present the captain with a bill for his boat. Since that day Pete's story has led him to prison in Japan, leading special forces teams into hostile environments, producing a TV show called The Operatives, assisting governments in the fight against poachers and illegal fishing, shot at and even stabbed. Pete doesn't claim to be a diver albeit he has 4-500 dives under his belt and an amazing story to tell. For an adventure of a lifetime, you can get in touch with Pete and volunteer to become part of the team.
Ted Talk: Find a cause worth dying for
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Matt Waters (00:00:00):
Hey, there dive buddies and welcome to the show. Rather, embarrassingly, I have to admit that I didn't have a clue about my next guest until two days ago when scrolling through some YouTube footage, I came across an episode of Whale Wars entitled from pirate to prisoner. Now I've got to point out in the last eight years. I've spent about two-thirds of that living on islands and remote locations. So forgive me for being separated from real life. And that's my excuse. Nevertheless, I started to watch this episode and was simply amazed to see this geezer, not only get rammed by a whaling vessel and watch his own boat go down, but then decide to take action in the most extraordinary way. As soon as that episode finished, I messaged him, hoping to get him on the show. And here he is two days later talking to me, Pete Bethune, I take the greatest of pleasures in welcoming you to the show out of devil a crazy man.
Pete Bethune (00:00:46):
I'm doing all right, Matt, It's good to be with you.
Matt Waters (00:00:50):
And just to clarify for those that are listening your now you're on or off the coast of Costa Rica.
Pete Bethune (00:00:58):
Yeah. I've got a ship in Costa Rica and we help the government here protect their national parks, and we do work in the jungle and a bit of work off shore protecting fisheries and stuff. So we are busy boys at the moment.
Matt Waters (00:01:10):
Yeah. Yeah. It sounds like it. I mean that, that message that we started earlier this week and you're like, yeah, yeah, I'll come on the show. Okay, cool. What do you want to do it? Well, we're going into the jungle in a few days. So, you know, it's either now or, you know, some time in the future, what the hell are you doing with fisheries in the jungle?
Pete Bethune (00:01:29):
All right. All we kind of split our time here. So our agreement with the government is we support any of the national parks and we've got an anti-poaching dog, which can track people in the jungle and hold people in the jungle. We provide that in a few lads for go and help on jungle patrols. And that's trying to stop illegal logging and especially illegal gold mining and a little bit of poaching. And then we also support them off shore. And then we're in particularly areas where we provide a Zodiac, I've got a 45 meters ship, which was our sort of base of operations and a $4 million Schiebel, military drone that we, we fly for surveillance. So we kind of split our time, half in the jungle, half on shore and every now and then, like this week, we're back in the Harbor doing maintenance. So you were lucky to catch me this week mate haha,
Matt Waters (00:02:17):
It looks like maybe I've been whipping through your website and looking at all this stuff that you do. And it's, it's mental, it's absolutely mental. It's like, it's like a military operation.
Pete Bethune (00:02:28):
Yeah. I mentals relative. Like I don't see it as mean to all good people doing a nine to five job. And I think that is crazy. Like, you know, I've lived the dream over the last sort of 10 or 12 years. I'm very lucky to be where I am. And it, it doesn't come easy. Like you sacrifice a few things to pursue. And especially conservation conservation is it's always hard to make ends meet, you know? And but I'm very blessed to be here. And I think, I think people living in Sydney doing 9 till 5 I think you guys are the crazy ones.
Matt Waters (00:03:05):
I'd agree with that haha!
Pete Bethune (00:03:06):
Mind you're bloody out there too, I've done abit of diggin on you, you're a bit out there too mate haha!
Matt Waters (00:03:13):
Yeah, we got the same haircut and the same mindset. So take us back then when it started or did the conservation come from earth race to start with,
Pete Bethune (00:03:28):
Yeah, look, I'm an unlikely conservation. So when I left uni I got a job in the oil industry and I was worked in the middle east and the north sea and north Africa. And in those days I don't agree here to environmental science or conservation. It just wasn't on anyone's radar. And then many years ago I was in Sydney doing an MBA at McQuarie. And the opportunity came up to finish the degree with a 20,000 word paper, which initially I thought it was easier than sitting three papers. It was an exchange. And 20,000 words later, I kind of became a convert to buy these as as not a total solution for transport fuels, but as a route towards sustainability. And so I decided I'm going to do something to promote bio-diesel, so I built this very cool boat called Earthrace. We fueled it on bio-diesel made entirely from waste cooking oils. And we see the record for our boat to circle the globe went round and a little under 61 days. And that kind of opened my eyes to Marine conservation. And I spent four years on the sea and it started to see some issues that were quite alarming for me. And towards the end of the time on that ship, I was wondering what I was going to do next. I still had a big debt hanging over my head and my loving wife was, was very forgiving of all that. But it's funny when you, once you get to work on stuff you believe, and it's very hard to backtrack and go back to selling washing machines or, or doing something like that. And, and after that, I had this real dilemma, what am I going to do now? And I decided to have a crack at Marine conservation. And that led to a sort of a one year marriage decision where I went down to Antarctica and we battled the naughty Japanese whalers who were chasing whales in those days in New Zealand and Australias back yard. And I look back on that time and in some ways, very fondly, like, like Antarctic was a dream come true for a guy like me to go down there. And to be, you know, not, not simply looking at these amazing places, but to be doing something that I believe was really constructive in terms of disrupting the Japanese whaling program and then partway through the campaign. And what became a relatively historic event. My boat was run over by the Shonun Maru 2, which was the security vessel. It kind of took the front off the boat. And then after a few more shenanigans I managed to board that security boat in the middle of the night off a jet ski. And I presented the Captain the following morning. I hid on the ship all night and then the following morning, I wandered up to the bridge and I presented them with a bill for $3 million to replace the boat that he'd destroyed. And you know, I remember the captain he kind of, he sort of looked at me and he didn't know I'd boarded the ship in the middle of the night. He thought I was just jumping off a helicopter. He's trying to figure out how I got on his ship. He didn't know what was going on. And then afterwards, he, he popped back inside the bridge and the, and the door was just slightly ajar as he went in. And I slid in behind him and talk about a party you haven't been invited to. (Laughter) Um anyway, after that day, so I went back to Japan as a prisoner. It was just kind of the goal all along and really put whaling on the map in Japan. And it was the first time the Japanese really started debating whaling as an issue. And the conclusion of most people was that whaling is a nationalistic sort of activity and we support it. But during that year, Whale consumption in Japan, dropped 30% and was the first time they really heard from foreigners that it was pissing us off and especially Kiwis and Aussies mate, like I was quite dark about it. And, you know, I'm normally a relatively peaceful bloke and the Japanese whaling was sneaking past our two countries and whaling. And what I thought of as our backyard was, was a little bit upsetting for me. And in many ways that period became historic and the anti whaling sort of movement part way through my jail sentence, Australia's government announced court action against Japan and then the international court of justice and the Hague. And I remember this June was turning up and our boost and the tears, and I sort of, kind of knew that that was what it's going to take to stop whaling. And it took four years for the case to reach its fruition. It cost New Zealand, Australian governments, something like $80 billion to take the court case so Japan lost. And then it was a few more years before Japan finally withdrew from Antarctica with their tail between their legs. But I'm, you know, I'm very proud of the role that I played and also that it Sea Shepherd of Greenpeace and WWF and many organizations who sort of worked in their own kind of way to highlight that issue, to run protests. And, you know, sometimes our governments. They need a kick up the to go and do something. And, and in many ways that the loss of the boat, the very successful show Whale Wars and my incarceration in Japan sort of pushed the public opinion to reach a tipping point where the Aussie government was fine, Like fuck this we, better go and do something, (Laughter) that's a great demonstration that, you know, a lot of people think that protesting and activism and stuff doesn't work. It doesn't have a role to play, and it's not the solution to everything, but sometimes occassionaly. It does actually work.
Matt Waters (00:08:55):
The thing that I find amazing in this whole scenario is that once you're in Japan, yet you're arrested, you're put into prison. You looked at like a, a terrorist yet. There's nothing said about the dude who clearly on the video vears his vessel through a ridiculous amount of degrees to make it blatantly obvious that he's just intent on ramen. You, when you sit in dormaant in the water. Yeah.
Pete Bethune (00:09:22):
There was a really interesting conversation I had with the first officer on the Shonun Maru. So I had 30 days on their boat and of course they, you know, it's an embarrassment for the, for the security ship to be boarded in the middle of the night and some, some white faced turkey running around the ship all night and they've not seen him. So they weren't entirely friendly towards me, but giving them credit, they were certainly professional. Anyway, the first officer I'm one of the days, I said, why did you guys run me over? And he basically said that they thought a little bit of damage to my ship would be okay. And, and in many ways I think they probably, they, I don't think they really want it to go destroying the ship. I think they wanted to do a small amount of damage, but down there was a big swell and the boat kind of rolled over these three successive swells and the, and the Shonan Maru, those boats are an engineering, Marvel, like they do, they can be 23 knots.
Pete Bethune (00:10:19):
This is a 70 meter boat and they can tune on a dime. They, they are truly feats of engineering. And I think the boat tuned a little bit quicker than the kitchen might've been expecting. And then in terms of maritime law, we were in the right, like we are, we basically stationary, I think we were doing three or four knots underway just to maintain the heating cause we were low on fuel. Henry wait to be refueled. And the shonan Maru was the overtaking vessel. And then as they kind of overtook us, they became the port side vessels under both scenarios. They had to give way. But then there's a, there's another little law that says is that as the, the captain of a vessel, if you see a close quarter situation, regardless of whether you have right away or not, you are supposed to do everything you can to get out of the collision.
Pete Bethune (00:11:04):
And so there was a maritime New Zealand report that came in and they laid a bit of blame at my foot mate, you know, I've shipped it yet. We were down there, we did all sorts of shenanigans, disrupting their whaling, and it was high risk. On the one day we weren't doing anything naughty and they come ana run us over (laughter). And so looking back on it though, I reckon it ended up being a pivotal day in the, in the anti whaling sort of movement. Like it galvanized a lot of public opinion. And I suspect If my ship hadn't been run over, I suspect Japan would still be whaling in Antartica. Because it really did. We needed the Australian government to front up and, you know, back in those days, your government had a bit of backbone? I don't know what's happening these days. (laughter)
Matt Waters (00:11:54):
I'm with you, man. It completely right. If you hadn't been hit as aggressively as that, it would have been a near miss story and that's about it. Hmm.
Pete Bethune (00:12:04):
Interesting thing. I was listening to a podcast almost as auspicious as your one, a while back in the guy was, sort of explaining that the general public only has a conscience for about six or seven major issues. And historically that's the case these days, it's a lot more like there's a lot more demographics that within their own bubbles. And if you're, let's say you're a Republican voter in America, you know, you care about abortion and gun rights and war in Iraq and various other things. But, but the, what happens is things like can be in the public consciousness for a period of time and then they fade away and you go back, you know, there was the anti-Vietnam movement, for example, it was gay rights and women's rights and all of these things that come into public consciousness. And in many ways, the whaling, the anti whaling movement took a chance and, and that pushed the Ozzies to take court action, New Zealand, reluctantly joined in after that, and Japan lost the case. And I, you know, I was blessed to be in the middle of that crazy circus haha!
Matt Waters (00:13:06):
You must have had many moments that chuckling to yourself as well.
Pete Bethune (00:13:10):
Yeah. Yeah for sure.
Matt Waters (00:13:11):
Going on from, you know, once the success of getting you back home um back with the family how on earth did you then get away from the family again? Did the Mrs. And the kids not just say, hold on a minute, dad,
Pete Bethune (00:13:31):
Interestingly, before I went to Antarctica, me and my misses split up and I go back to my point earlier, when you get to work on stuff you really believe in, it's very hard to backtrack. And my ex-wife now Sharon, she was an amazing lady. But things had kind of changed between us. And one of the good things that happened was was we, it was a relatively amicable split up and straight afterwards. I went to Antarctica. So I'm out of action. And Sharon ended up getting herself a boyfriend in the meantime. And so I did 3 months in Antarctica in five months in prison. So I was eight months before I saw her. Again, you know, very often you spoke with your partner, then you go back and have a sly one, then you need you each other back or whatever. So I, I made it through, avoid all that.
Pete Bethune (00:14:17):
And when I got back, Sharon was loved up with a new boyfriend and it kind of, and, and that was it. That was a good thing. And after that, there's this dilemma, what am I going to do now? Like my, my boat was gone. And I was determined to remain involved in Marine conservation, but it's all conservationists will tell you how you're going to fund your work. And then, you know, there's a few ways you can do it. Some people do it part time where they might have a professional job, and then they take three months a year and go and do something. Otherwise you can get a job for an NGO where they pay you like Greenpeace, for example. And another way is you, you kind of create a niche for yourself. And that was what I tried to do with, you know, I wanted to, to carve out something that, that I was in control of my relationship with sea shepherd wasn't always that great. Like I did a year with them, but Paul Watson and I didn't really see eye to eye on things. It's all I wanted to just go and spread my wings a bit and see what I could do by myself. You know, I had this idea to do a television show to fund the work well, Whale Wars, that rated through the roof. And that, that episode, when I boarded the Shonan Maru, that remains the highest ever rating episode, and all the history I was like a D right. Celebrity for that. And, but what, what did, I mean, we're thinking of me like this, maybe I can do a TV show. And so I went out and I was a, it was a guy in New Zealand who I talked him to give me half a million dollars. He had just won the Lotto, he gave me half a million dollars, and I flew to Namibia with a team of former black ops guys and sort of Navy seals and Marine recon, type players.
Pete Bethune (00:15:54):
And we broke into a Debears diamond mine where they did seal clubbing. The seal clubbing is unrelated to the diamond mine. It's just that the diamond mines is a very secure facility. And it's prevents anyone from getting on the video or photograph these hundred thousand seal pups a year that they're going to kill. So we got dropped off about a couple of miles off shore, and we had no idea what was there. All I had was, was Google earth, but the area was blurred and the mine. So we got dropped off a couple of miles off shore, one of the largest great white shark Hangouts in the world. Like it's got this place is that largest seal rookery in all of Africa. And we're swimming through this thing in the middle of the night, this like seals. And we got to shore. I can't remember what she was. He was a south African guy and we got a shore and we were shitting our pants, swimming through that. And then we got caught up in this kelp with stuff. And then we said, we, we get ashore. I've got this guy, Jack, who who's a New Zealand paratrooper. And we put our gear down and we where just getting out of our wetsuits and stuff.
Pete Bethune (00:17:00):
And I hear this (makes crying noise) I look around and here's a Jackal is grabbing my Camera mans pack and it starting to drag his pack off. And he had some, he had some Billtong in his pack and I think the Jackal could smell it. He goes to grab the pack off the jackal and this Jackal goes (snarling noise) (laughter) and he's like, bugger this man you don't pay me enough for this. And we got on the radio, we called up Larry, I assume the Zodiac waiting a couple of balls of short gates. You would guys waiting. We call up Larry, this guy swimming back through this shark infested water back out to the Zodiac. So anyway, over the next four days, Jack and I spent the next few days sort of dodging patrols and trying to figure out where the seal clubbing was happening and an amazingly on the last day, basically out of water and out of food.
Pete Bethune (00:17:48):
And these seal clubbers came to within about 200 meters of where we are, where we were sitting. And as they're coming in. I was going ah man, this, this is your chance. Don't, don't miss it, but you don't want to get caught. South Africa has a long history of shooting people at diamond mines. So you don't want to get caught. So. Yeah. And so I have Jack, I put him up on a high point to guide me and then, and then I had a sniper ghillie suit things and on and on crawling, crawling over these rocks and getting as close as I can. And because my cameraman had gone, I was having to do the filming and everything. And I had, it was one of the, as a Canon five D mark three, it's quite a nice camera, but all of a sudden they adjusting it.
Pete Bethune (00:18:27):
And amazingly there, the, the, the, the thing just suddenly came into focus. I had a 400 mil lens, so suddenly there's like, this thing is this, what comes is looking straight at me. And and I witnessed one of the most horrific things I've ever seen. Like they, I don't know how many seals they club, maybe maybe three or 400. And it was horrible, horrible thing to witness. And you know what I mean? But thinking what, you know, I'm tempted to go running down there and smack a couple of them and I'd of been a fool to do that. I'll probably still be in prison now. So we ended up with this pretty extraordinary footage and we, we cut an episode of television out of it. And we tried selling it to the networks and they, they didn't, they liked the show, but they were worried about the risk of if you get commissioned by a network, they take on that risk.
Pete Bethune (00:19:18):
And then eventually I talked to the guy in New Zealand who had just won lottery, give me half a million dollars. I had a court case against sea shepherd where I had another half a million, went to Costa Rica and blew it all little film with a television show. But, and, but they kind of kept me gone for a couple more years sold it to private, and I've got sold onto discovery and RTL and a bunch of networks. I think, I think it is in about 90 countries certain countries who did really where we got on the national broadcaster in Germany and in Italy, but some other countries who was doing some, some military channel at three in the morning.(laughter) and then, so they keep me going for a couple of years, we, we managed to talk pivot who is that you wish partner to doing a second season and that we went and filmed in Asia.
Pete Bethune (00:20:01):
And so the premise of the show is I would take former military guys and we would do what we considered hard targets and conservation. And we busted quite a few illegal logging operations, close down to legal gold mining operations we where the first to put pangolin on the map. So pangolin is kind of the hybrid animal, like they are part reptillian, and they've got scales like a reptile and the mammalian, and they've got breasts and they give birth to live young, that breastfeed. And it's, it's the most smuggled mammal in the world. And no one had really heard of it. And we came across this wildlife smuggling ring that was smuggling these poor little guys to China. And we put a, put an operation on Placer, cause it took us about six weeks for that to come to fruition. So we closed the net wildlife smuggling ring. There was another one that was smuggling forest turtles
Matt Waters (00:20:50):
The pangolin, what, what do they use the pangolin for? Not, it's not just for food?
Pete Bethune (00:20:55):
The Scales are used in traditional medicine to help women that are having problems lactating. So the scales are dried and come in a powder. I believe the meat is a delicacy, which is, is used in, you know, food and so on sort of thing. So the thing is a, as a conservationist the planet does pay a heavy price for China. When I look at all of the missions in total, we filmed I think, 18 different episodes. And of those over half of them, the product that was being smuggled to take a lead leak was going back to China. Uyou know, the, the planet is in, is in dire straits mate. And, you know, even as you know, you're a diver, you went and dived some of those places you dive 50 years ago and compare it now, I'm not suggesting you're 50 years mate...
Matt Waters (00:21:49):
Mate just a six, seven year span, you know, it's a big difference in locations its absolutely mental.
Pete Bethune (00:21:57):
So anyway, there was a, so the TV show kicked me gone for six or seven years, I think. And and then more recently the US network closed down and that left me in limbo. What are you going to, where are you going to get your money from now Bethune? And at the time I had a guy who was wanting me to get involved in fisheries and he, he offered to buy a boat for me. And that's the current boat I'm on now, the Modoc, former us Navy ship. And then I had the CEO of Schiebel, which make military drones. He invited me to his lake front property in Austria a couple of years ago. And, and I didn't really know where it was leading. Like I knew about Australians, but I didn't sort of realize the significance of it.
Pete Bethune (00:22:43):
And at the end of the weekend, he basically said, look with you. And if you, if you can get a ship that can land the drone on, I'll give you one of these beasts and I'll train you and everything that was a few years ago now. And it's all I'll tell you mate this is a mans drone aye. Yeah, it was a couple, couple of hundred kilos is a full takeoff weight that you can fly three or 400 kilometers. You can have live video 200 kilometers away. So for example, on sitting here in little Harbor and Gulfito, I can fly this 200 Ks up the coastline. And so it's a, it's a game changer in terms of conservation. I'm sort of finding that now, like historically for you to protect national parks, you went and hired some boys out of the pub game, a couple of guns and seeing them off in the jungle, or just put them on a little boat and tell them to go on patrol area.
Pete Bethune (00:23:34):
And for a period of time, that kind of work. But today the resources that illegal fishermen and hunters or miners have is quite significant. And, you know, they're all sitting there talking on telephones, and you know, that the drivers that are pushing this is quite significant now there's, I believe there's too many people in the world, therre's another issue. And so there's a, there's a lot of powerful drivers that are pushing conservation to the brink and technology has a role to play. And if I look at what know our work here in Costa Rica, certainly the drone is a, is a key part of it. Ucamera traps, you know, we're helping put a whole bunch of camera traps through the, through the jungle here,uusing radar to go trekking boats up and down the coastline audio traps. So there is this new technology where they put these acoustic microphones in the jungle, and now they can pick up noises up to about three or four Ks away.
Pete Bethune (00:24:29):
And where's the camera trap is just, it shows you something moving past this point. Whereas these acoustic traps, someone uses a chainsaw, drives a vehicle, starts a pump or a generator or something within say three or four Ks, you'll hear it. So the two, many ways compliment each other. And you know, certainly, you know, drones can be a giant change in jungle. So you're seeing this transition at the moment and conservation from being largely focused on boots on the ground or men on the water to being technology first. And then the idea is you're guiding the ranger. So what we're trying to do here is we send the Rangers. Here we go with them when there's a target, rather than just walking aimlessly around the jungle. We want to know there's someone in this part of the jungle and send the ranger teams there.
Pete Bethune (00:25:15):
And then things like we've got Appa, which is our anti poaching dog. He's a Belgian, Malinois, Holy cow mate. These are the elite athletes or the dog wheels, and they have four or five months ago. He's an unbelievable dog. He's a super athlete. He's clever, he's got an amazing nose on it. Like his ability to sniff stuff out is quite extraordinary. And so he's been trained to track people in the jungle and then more recently we were training them to hold people. And that's, that's another, that's a whole can of worms. Once you start releasing a dog to you are grabbing people, but you know, a big problem we've had here in the past, especially illegal gold miners often will come across an illegal mine operation and you might catch one or two guys, but often there's what we call a squirter someone disappear in episode.
Pete Bethune (00:26:01):
But if they see if the, if the miners see a dog, they're much more inclined to give up, like a dog puts an element of question and the mind is not, you know, you're not going to get run at least likely to pull a knife or a machete, or, you know, even a gun for example. And so, you know, things like that, we were trying to sort of empower the Rangers here and, and make them smarter in the way they work and, and give them a better chance to succeed. You know, very, very lucky to be following us down this lonely Trek.
Matt Waters (00:26:33):
Do you do you get a bit of difficulty with within the teams at all? Because, I mean, I mean, thinking back to the TV program and going on what you're doing now, there's obviously men who, you know military style men and testosterone up to the max, and then you add into it maybe personal emotion about the animals that you're protecting. Have you had any kind of issues with having to rain and rain, the guys in at all?
Pete Bethune (00:27:00):
Let me let you in on a secret, in fact, I've given up, I haven't given up on them, but I don't really take the military guys anymore. They might be the odd guy here, but it's more incidnetal. I don't need to be running around the jungle again. You know, the Rangers, you know, those guys are well equipped and sometimes I've been involved in training them a little bit. But I, I prefer to sort of provide this, the surveillance and the sort of backup, and, you know, I try and provide a professional service here where we provide surveillance and, and manpower another lens. One of the things that I've found, I, you know, with my television show, I hired former spec ops and Navy seals, SAS type lads. Most of them have a few issues going on. And it's like a double edged sword, like, especially the Americans.
Pete Bethune (00:27:49):
So seal team six or seal team 2, they have done a lot of serious stuff and they pay a heavy price for it. And PTSD is rampant through those guys. And the stories I could tell you about probably one, you know, the guys are very loyal to me and serve me well. And, and the unit here when we were filming the show, but they pay a heavy price for this stuff. And often it manifests itself and, and, you know, angry, outbursts, and things got dead. And, you know, our show, we, you know, I didn't want to ever show the boys in a, in a poor light. And so we, we largely left that out of the show, but there was some, there was some tough days with dealing with some people with some serious issues, highly skilled guys is, is something that happens often.
Pete Bethune (00:28:34):
Those guys that, you know, you're in, let's say you're in a seal team, you know, or a Marine recon. Like you're a serious hardcore guy that is often told you are the best, you know, you're indoctrinated into this unit and you've got these a very strong team ethos. And, and in those teams, like, like you, at times, depending on your life on this guy next to you and vice versa, you take those guys out of the next thing that, you know, the back in Charlotte or North Carolina or Seattle or wherever, and they lose that. They've now lost that support network. And in terms of job, if they're an officer, they got plenty of options. But if you, if you're a grunt in that in a seal team you can become a personal trainer or close protection of some Russian squillionnare,
Pete Bethune (00:29:23):
Those are not the most appealing jobs when you've been an elite soldier and you come out and you're not valued so much a lot of them struggle with that. You know, in some ways I gave those boys another avenue for, you know, a very tight knit team. And, and I,uyou know, some of we all can use your skills,uyou know, the skills to go, to go killing people and not that useful in everyday life. Uand you know, a lot of them, a lot of them kind of struggle with it. And I've got a great deal of sympathy for military people who we spend a serious amount of time in difficult situations. They pay a heavy price for it. Yeah.
Matt Waters (00:30:01):
A hundred percent agree. And I've got quite a lot of friends that have suffered over the years, so hats off to them all.
Pete Bethune (00:30:10):
So anyway, what, what was the question I forgot (laughter) I was doing...
Pete Bethune (00:30:15):
You never got in between any kind of problems going on, just stood out the way
Pete Bethune (00:30:20):
When things are used to do is we would we, I don't know. I try to keep, keep my lads super fit. And one of the things, for example, here in Costa Rica, we work the rangers. The rangers are like mountain goats. And especially the ones who've been doing it for years like they're wirey. And super fast up the hill. When you find big guys, I was embarrassed at times, a couple of a couple of my guys. They muscly buffheads, shit in the jungle, (laughter) useless in the jungle, and they're just carrying too much muscle. And here's, these literally mountain guides just scaling up the jungle, so anyway, I would always try and keep the boys super fit one of the avenues I had was, I would sort of match them up for sort of, I had a couple of jujitsu guys.
Pete Bethune (00:31:02):
And, and so we started training doing, doing jujitsu. So you weren't allowed to strike the other guy, but it was sort of wrestling, jujitsu, judo, all that kind of carry on. And, and you put a couple of boys for 10 minutes and there's a couple of tap outs. And, and anyway, I mistakenly, I had a couple lads that were at sea at I on a few things anyway. So I matched these two, let's just say they ended in a few tears (laughter). So after that I avoided, or I was more selective on who went up against each other. So but these days with, with their work in Costa Rica, I take volunteers from pretty much anywhere. So my volunteers prior to coming here, I probably bet they pay three grand to be here for three months. And as long as they've got a good attitude and, and a competent you know, I've got, I've got a couple of kids on the bus, I've got one guy here who's 20 years old.
Pete Bethune (00:31:55):
He's done a year of uni or whatever. And he decided to hit out and do something. And normally they used to have to start with like, take someone who's 20. They don't have much in the way of skills, but I put on my, on here for a month. And as long as they had working and they have what I call competence, I can normally get a lot of value out of them. And I walk off and I walk away quite different people. And the boat, you know, you're in the deep end here, like, it's, you know, it's not like it, you know, you're doing a, you're doing a, an, apprentice trade certificate it at a Polytech or something like, you know, day three, you're driving the Zodiac. And two weeks later, you're driving rib and you're running this ten tonne crane, and then you have to grind the foredeck.
Pete Bethune (00:32:33):
And, oh, this kid, the other day, he was, he was using, did we used a grinder before and assumed he had, I mistakenly, you know, after the bass that grinding and then Ten minutes later hes back and he's cut into his finger to the bone with this grinder. So anyway, it was a good training. So then I've got my stitching kit out and I've done a bit of stitching in my days so I gave everyone a lesson on how to stitch. Only needed four or five stitches. And when we all got, we got down and I showed the boys how to do the first stitch and then talk through them through how to do stitching. So that was that was good, good training for the lads.
Pete Bethune (00:33:11):
But I sorta, I liked to put people in the deep end a little bit, not necessarily injure themselves, but, and sometimes some people sink and some swim really well. And you know, it's one of the great things about my, my gig. Now I do get to change some people's lives, not all. And some walk away a little bit disappointed, but I'd like the glint in young people's eyes. They want to make the world a better place. And who we don't mind being in a boat, getting beaten up all night, you know, bashing around out on some waves and getting soaked with, you know, they, it's neat to see people evolve like that.
Matt Waters (00:33:45):
He's going to have that top point for the rest of his life. He's never going to forget it.
Pete Bethune (00:33:50):
Yeah. Well, it's funny. I've been, I've been having volunteers for man. It's not a fist founded 2006. So it was it 16 years, 16 years. So I've been running volunteers for a long time. It took me a while to figure out how to get the best out of, and there's an exchange that goes on. So here volunteers, they might give me three grand to come here for three months. They walk away with some, hopefully some experiences they wouldn't otherwise get, but we go to the remotest parts of the jungle. Here we go, you know, heading out to the Cocos islands shortly. We go to some of the world's most iconic places. So they get some experiences. They wouldn't have. Otherwise they've got some skills that normally might take them years to, to go and getting, you know, and here you get pushed a lot from day one.
Pete Bethune (00:34:35):
And so a lot of them do walk away with different skills, but the best thing they walk away with, I call it problem solving. And in life, you know, people who are effective at doing stuff that good problem solvers just about anything we want to try and do it, you're solving problems. But a lot of people, you know, they, they struggle getting a flat and they struggle with things that some people might consider quite basic. So on here, I encourage you more people, you need to solve problems. So he don't bring me problems. You need to solve problems. And, and every time you go solve a problem as a job of my in-tray sort of thing and I've had some, some super awesome people have come under the ship and they walked away quite different people. And you know, you're in a lucky position to be able to see that. And you have a lot of them still keep in touch even, and then I'll go hit them up for a few bucks to help me on the next operation. You still owe for when I taught you how to grind concrete.
Matt Waters (00:35:28):
Remember the time I put five stitches in you. I didn't give you the bill. (laughter). So what's the, what's the plan pay because you are Costa Rica, you, are you mainly staying within Costa Rica or are you doing ...
Pete Bethune (00:35:43):
We are in Costa Rica probably til about Christmas. Our agreement with the government was for one year and that expires in August, but the new minister who's coming and talking about extending that out to till next year. But my feeling is by Christmas. We'll probably be doing the same kind of thing. And hopefully by then, we've largely sorted out the fisheries here and, and got a national park Marine reserves all tidied it up. And you know, the idea is that we try and up the rangers, encourage them to get their own trekking dog, and then we'll be moving on most probably. There's a couple of interesting first one is is Galapagos or they could do serious. So she's with the Chinese boats over there at the moment. Interestingly, the Chinese are coming into Costa Rican waters as well, or there's some recent Intel we got from from a source here was saying that the Chinese are coming into Costa Rica water.
Pete Bethune (00:36:36):
So we might be taking a look at that at some stage. There's Isla de Maipo has a similar problem with foreign boats, fishing illegally. That's part of Columbia, one of the top 10 dive sites in the world. I believe it's not a great things about my gig. I have been, not sure how many, but certainly at least half a dozen of the world's greatest dive sites over the years. And I'm not really not really a scuba diver, like maybe four or 500 total half of them cleaning boat hulls (laughter). But I dive for example, maneuvere reef of dark cocos island. And I don't have to truck lagoon. That was amazing.
Pete Bethune (00:37:21):
Yeah. And it's funny, you go and dive a few of those places. And so you're in Costa Rica on that. We want to dive to Conney island the other day, which on the mainland is the best dive site they have when you've done Cocos, Conney is like, meh There was a, there was a problem with,uthere were shark finning boats at the time. We, we, we got some Intel about, about half a dozen boats that were supposedly shark finning illegally. And we tried getting into the port. Isn't a port called Punta arenas, which is a dodgy little town, like one of the dodgiest towns I better watch what I say aye cos they might come get me (laughter), but we wanted to try and put some turtle trackers up on the masts of these boats.
Pete Bethune (00:38:13):
And it was pretty well guarded and there was dogs everywhere. And so in the end we couldn't get in by land. So I thought we'll just, we'll sneak in by water. So we went and I had a company Ong in Italy who make military rebreathers. These are oxygen only rebreathers. So anyway, they gave us a couple of these rebreathers and had a German guy come and train us. So we were training out at Coney island on these, on these oxygen rebreathers quite a techie bit of kit. You gotta know your stuff to use them. Anyway, we managed to Bumble your way through that so the next thing, it's like two in the morning with, very early versions of those underwater DPV's they are hard to use at night, and the water at Punta Arenas very esturine.
Pete Bethune (00:39:01):
There's lots of crocodiles. That was the mangrove two or three k's up stream with big Crocs and that. So I'm shitting my pants with my mate going in under the Wharf, climbed out of these rebreathers. And then we clambered up onto the, onto the, onto these, the two boats, which are that sort of on the outside, they would often they would stick two or three of them wide on a, on a given dock. Then I'd pick the outside wider, pull them up on top. And on one of them, the second one is this dog barking and like the dog could smell me, but he was, he was on the, on the Wharf and this dog barking away. Anyway, we got, we got these two turtle trackers on there, right?
Pete Bethune (00:39:39):
So then we got, got back under the wharf, put it, put these rebreathers on and snuck out of there and said what we would do. And we will use this as a way to find out where they're shark finning? So every sort of next couple of days, every couple of hours I'd log onto the site, see where you're supposedly turtle trackers had gone to and on. I think it was on day three, one left port at six in the morning, the other one left the next evening. And I start hitting off shore. Where are they going? But Shark finning is a coastal thing they don't really catch sharks and oceanic conditions there. Hey, I'm waiting. Are they gone? And next day, they're heading all the way to Cocos Island, all the way to Cocos. And so that really put in play another, another crazy mission.
Pete Bethune (00:40:21):
So now we knew there was, there was shark finning happening at Cocos island. We went and got a, got a permit to go there and we didn't have it. We didn't have really a suitable boat. The only boat I had was I had this 7m sea legs, which is this superboat. So I've got three wheels. They've got the front wheel coming back down a two on the bottom and you can drive them up on the beach, but they're not really an ocean going vessels. This is like 300 nautical miles off shore. And we didn't have enough. We couldn't fit all the fuel inside the boat, but I got, I started putting the fuel on the boat and I could see when the boat was starting to get too much, too much weight in a boat, you know, you start to have issues with it sinking.
Pete Bethune (00:41:00):
So anyway, we, we managed to secure from Europe, we got flown in. It cost us a huge amount, five grand to get this thing. It was a military fuel bladder that you could tow behind the boat. So now we start towing this thing. We get halfway out to Cocos and the fuel bladder gets a leak. So we pull it inside the boat and we've lost a whole bunch of fuel. And so we start, we, now we have to start running this fuel. It's got water in it. One of the engines blows, right? And for now, things are starting to get a bit dire and we're still like a hundred. So we dive enough fuel to go back to Costa Rica. We have enough maybe to carry on the cocos And so we sort of carry on. So now my maths are starting to sharpen up. Every couple of hours i redo my calculations on how much fuel I've got left. So we started this gig with, I think something like 1100 liters. We got to Cocos island with nines.
Pete Bethune (00:41:58):
Then it turned into was 72hour voyage. And we all ended up with horrible heat rash who was quite cold. And we, so we had wetsuits on, in fact, I had two weeks and we were eating these military meals, ready to eat, sort of thing has got a little salt sachet that you put in whatever. And every meal I'd put this down, I had two wetsuits on, I'd put this down my chest to heat up on my chest. I had one of the guys on my crew was a celiac. He did not at the time, but anyways, he was allergic to gluten all of these MREs are packed with gluten. So this poor guy is crumbling in front of me. There was five of us on the boat of which only myself and one other were capable of driving. Others ended up getting really sick. We got caught in the second and third nights, both arenas, horrendous fronts coming through and Cocos island at night, always choppy.
Pete Bethune (00:42:48):
It was a miserable voyage. 72 hours. As we limped into Cocos Island I remember jumping off that boat and like, happy to be alive so we spent a couple of days recovering. And then, so now we had to, we didn't have very good satellite connection. So we didn't really know what was going on with these, with these boats were only gonna ping from those boats from every four hours. So these two Shark finning boats, and they were, they were the things we did get, they were generally hanging out at 12 nautical miles off shore. So we went out the next night. So now we're, we can't get a boat up on the plane, right? All the sick and injured started to have problems as well. Right? (laughter) we go out chasing these nights, our first night, we, we didn't really couldn't really understand what was going on second night.
Pete Bethune (00:43:31):
It suddenly took place what they were doing. These are about one and a half knots current that slides past Cocos and what these long liners would do. I think it was quite a few of them like, like maybe eight or 10 of them, then they would drive in, in a row and they would sweep sort of past the on and off this dropping their long lines. And then they'd go and wait outside. So they're only in the Marine reserve for a very brief period of time laying the long legs. And then they just sit out. So it was just pulling our long lines in. So it was on the second night, which was our last night. Then the following day we had, we had to get going. So anyway, so they did a run at about maybe seven in the evening. And so at the end of the run, they saw me and thought "aah what's going on" picked up their lines up and then right on daylight, they went in to do a second run.
Pete Bethune (00:44:16):
And we came in, all we had to do was video them inside the Marine reserve to bus. And so we ended up, we caught seven of them and the last guy said, the first boat we busted suddenly their all on the radio and suddenly billows of smoke as all these boats start scattering everywhere. And we got the last guy. We got him just with about one mile still inside the Marine reserves. So we caught seven boats in one night, which was, which was pretty cool. And that remains for me one of my, one of my most memorable, missions, it was really hard and pushed pretty tough guys, you know, almost to the edge of breaking point. And then we managed to catch 7 boats, you know? And, you know, it made, it made a good episode of television. (laughter)
Pete Bethune (00:45:02):
Television is bringing an interesting thing like that. You know, often I sort of got to saying we're all sort of prostitutes in our own way and television, in some ways sort of, I had to prostitute myself, but like there was some missions that I wanted to do that there was there was the television had no interest in it, you know, for television, they want a really strong arc or storyline and people love animals. And for example, there was, there was a big trade and, and these a type of tree out of Africa that was being exported to the states and China and everywhere. And the networks were like. What's the tree nonsense, we didn't care about some little tree that's being stolen. You know, we want, we want pangolin and penguins, fluffy animals sort of thing. And so, you know, so in some ways I didn't do all the missions that I wanted, but that we did manage to highlight, some issues that I thought were really important. And we certainly started to close down quite a few wildlife smuggling ring or people doing naughty stuff, you know, its been a crazy ride mate.
Matt Waters (00:46:09):
Well, I think it's safe to say you've saved a lot of animals and you've pissed a lot of people off, which is great.
Pete Bethune (00:46:15):
Yeah. pissed a lot of people off and, you know, it made a lot of people quite happy too. You know, sometimes in my gig it's easy to, you know, I've had a few death threats and that over the years. And I had one guy he's Australian, actually, he was when me and sea shepherd and we kind of Paul Watson and I didn't see eye to eye on a few things. And so when I split for the sea shepherd there was a bit of grief floating around, and this guy, he sent me a message on Facebook and he said, Bethune, there's nowhere to run nowhere to hide. I'm coming to get ya! (laughter)
Pete Bethune (00:46:48):
I replied and I said here's my address, bring your A-game pal. And then I posted it on my wall. And so then it was, yeah, it was like world war 3 opening up with all my homies getting stuck into him. And so you end up close to it, he closed his page down. But you know, look when you're involved in conservation, you, you do piss a few people off. And and you know, but a lot of people, I think increasingly conservation is becoming accepted. Especially amongst younger people, sort of old people. I think when you're, you know, people who are maybe 70 or 80 these days, but they sort of were raised when conservation and environment, wasn't an issue at school. When you know you cared about communism and interest rates and security and things like that, those days are changed. And now you take a kid of 20, the bulk of them do have a really good sense of, of the environment and our place in it. And it's one of the reasons I'm optimistic about the future. I think there's so many people coming through who do give a shit about planet and we want to make it a better place. And we just got to get all these old people the other way, old people like me (laughter)
Matt Waters (00:47:57):
Steady, steady. I'm in your age bracket. Haha. I'm not old yet. So where's it all, leading to Pete? We've got, I saw on a website. You've got,uthat sexy looking boat Earthrace 2.
Pete Bethune (00:48:15):
Yeah. That's my long game. So I had one of the, one of the great things about Earthrace. It was an extraordinary Boat, so this'll test your geography. So we, we started off in Portugal across the Atlantic, through the Panama canal all the way across the Pacific to Australia down the coast of Australia, as far as Hobart. And over to Auckland and we did all of that on one tank of fuel. The tri-hull form is extremely efficient. And, and, you know, it's not just a hull-form. So you got to, you know, propellors and drivechain, gearbox and everything. And, and the, the boat was amazing focusing people's eyes and, and, you know, you couldn't look. And I look at that boat in and not think holy shit that is cool, but the boat had a real presence about it.
Pete Bethune (00:49:00):
And it was, it was really easy to make stuff happen. When I had that boat, when I look at what I'm doing now, this ship was not ideal. Like it's slow, like, you know, well, you know, I had the other day, we had two engines running and we hit 10 knots, woohoo double figures. And so there's, there's, there's certainly big some boats that get away from us these days that we're, I mean, we're whatever reason we can't get them in the rib might be too rough or might be too far away to start with. So, a lot of my officer will stop this boat. It's very limited.
Pete Bethune (00:49:30):
Also the flight deck is not perfect. And, and so my long game is I want to build a tri Hawaii piece about 60 meters long. The design is, I don't know if you know how boats are measured and stuff. So they, they have, so they have the official length of a boat. It's a complex calculation, and it's not from the stern to the bow. It's roughly from sort of the stern, but the bow is 80% of the height of the main deck level. So by being creative, you can make, build a 60 meter boat, thats classed as a 45 meter. And that made us when, for example, for you to take any boat over 45 meters into a Marine reserve, you need a special permit for you to come into port. You need a pilot on the boat. If you go in 45, meters is so much more restricted. So I want to have a boat that's 44.9. (laughter) So I'm going to have a 60 meter long boat that is only 44.9 official link. The one that that's quite quite curious is the way they measure the weight of boats.
Pete Bethune (00:50:30):
So they have what's called the gross registered tonnage that is based amazingly when Britain used to transport coal and it's effectively how much coal could you fit inside this ship? And it's a tonnage of coal, but there's certain areas get excluded. So they exclude, for example, the the engine room and the, a part of the ship has a removable section it's classed as Non-permanent so a lot of boats, what they do is they go putting a section of wall that can be removed. And therefore that doesn't get counted towards your gross tonnage. So the idea with this is you keep your boat under 500 gross. You just, anyway, this Earthrace 2 is going to be 44.9 registered length, 490 tons. And it was going to be an engineering Marvel. There's the small issue of $15 million dollars. Kind of what my plan is. I'm trying to prove myself in what I do here. And I'll, I'll keep doing this gig for another couple years, sooner or later, a big hitter is going to look at it, work and say, I'm going to back that guy and write him a check for 15 million. That is my long game. And that boat will keep me going until I retire. I'm going to pop back to New Zealand, get myself a little mobility, scooter souped up a little bit. (laughter)
Pete Bethune (00:51:55):
Come and join me mate.
Matt Waters (00:51:56):
Zip down the pub haha
Pete Bethune (00:52:05):
I couldn't think of anything worse than retiring, to be honest.
Matt Waters (00:52:07):
I need a mobility scooter at the moment. I'm bloody crutches. I managed to snap my hamstring in two places 10 days ago.
Pete Bethune (00:52:25):
Oh my god, You must've been, what were you messing with the misses? (laughter)
Matt Waters (00:52:32):
No, unfortunately skateboarding
Pete Bethune (00:52:36):
Skateboarding. You go, where you a skateboarder when you were a kid, then you sort of reliving your youth and you were trying to do era lip slide or something. Hahaha
Matt Waters (00:52:46):
Actually, I'd had a great couple of runs and I was literally just stepping off the board and well...
Pete Bethune (00:52:52):
Had a I was a skateboarder as a kid and we we built a ramp and we had a driveway that went through a two car garage, two carsend on end, and then another concrete bit out the back half. And at the bottom of that, you had a run of about 40 meters downhill. And we, we built this ramp. So we went around the neighborhood and stole a whole lot of pallets and stuff and talked dad, and to get us a couple sheets of plywood. So we built this quite capable ramp actually.
Pete Bethune (00:53:19):
Um speaking of crutches, I was on crutches a bit earlier this year. I I got put in food, Lance snake, better food lines, food Lance, so that the deadliest snake and, and all of central south America, like they, they kill a lot of people. It was a ranger here.
Pete Bethune (00:53:37):
Couple years ago, he got bitten by one of these. He was dead in 10 minutes. Anyway, we were doing a patrol up at Piedras blankets, national park. It was more of a recon. Actually. We were often if we're going to operate in an area, we go in initially just with a small team of two or three. And we just see what sign there is of people. Was there any signs of logs being dragged out, any sign of dogs, which is always a sign of hunting sort of thing. So knew it was just a recon to see what activities going on. And we were often in the jungle here. It's the easiest way to travel as either up a Creek or a watercourse or on a ridge line. It's very difficult to go in the middle. And anyway, we, we worked at web this creepy and then kind of got as far as we could go easily.
Pete Bethune (00:54:21):
So we were having to cross over to the ridge line and we would just kind of over some, some leaf litter and stuff. And then next thing felt this BANG the back of my calf. And I thought someone had hit me initially. Like it was, it was quite serious, like hit me with a Baton or something. And I was sort of turned round. And here's the snake sort of rear back and the Furlance So I've seen about a dozen they see, and when you see them, the Rangers, those are all like, they not go near that, that guy, so I knew it was a furlance and thought I was a dead man aye. I feel like we, we had already been hiking for a couple of hours to get up to where we were and, you know, knowing about how many ranges and stuff were being killed or with these things and army beside the boys, or this could be my numbers up and it was a pretty tough day when I had to say override a Spanish guy, he's a engineer.
Pete Bethune (00:55:13):
He put me over his shoulder and he starts hiking down next, when he stumbles over and my leg was strobing, like, so initially the pain was just around the bite, but every little bump that leads started to really, really hurt. And eventually after about 10 minutes of this getting beaten up and I was burning so much energy clinging onto him. And I, you know, I knew my chances of survival was one of things. Just you, you want to burn as little energy as possible. And so you just put me down mate, so he put me down. And I tried crawling on my belly and it didn't work so well. So I sat on my arse and I basically, I sort of had my left leg out. And then I sort of use this leg and not sort of shuffle on my arse down this Creek bed. So there was the thing we had to two routes out one was followed this, this original on all the way round. And that would have taken probably four or five, eight hours, or we go vertical down, this damn Creek bed. Anyway I'm shooting down these, these slides on my bum. I tell you the boys where having to catch me. And I sent Alvaro to go and get the coast guard to be waiting for me. And now they don't have to be after probably about an hour. I started to get heart palputations and my hearts goting boom, boom, boom, boom, really, really fast. And then I'm in about half an hour later. It started to slow down and all I want to do is sleep. And I remember it, maybe I'd crawl maybe 50 meters and then I'd sort of curl down and close my eyes for a minute.
Pete Bethune (00:56:40):
And one of my legs checked. He's like, come on, Pete, keep going, keep going. And I'm like, piss off you wanker I'm just super tired. Anyway, eventually they got me down to the flat on the bottom and an Alvarez managed to come back with a a couple of coast guard. And so they took turns carrying me on their shoulders, on the flat where it was okay. And I Remember that they laid me down on the, on the, on this gravel, on the water's edge with a coast guard boat was going to pick me up and I was just like aaah I want to go to sleep.I don't remember much more that day. I do remember getting out of the hospital and then kind of the next, next few days, you're in a morphine induced blur sort of thing. And on day three, I remember waking up and looking at my, at my leg.
Pete Bethune (00:57:24):
It's I've got one leg like this skinny little league and this other one, it's not this and crazily. I'm going to say, oh man. I said that's a muscly looking leg innit. I didn't realize that I was this close to losing my leg, like the, they were about to transfer me to another hospital. So what they do with a snake bite, sorry. This might be interesting for some of your listeners, so the antidote, the way that they create this is they inject horses with a small amount of venom and the horse goes generating something in its immune system that it uses to go attacking the venom. So you get this complex concoction of stuff out of a horse that is being injected in you. You're also being given antibiotics and you're being given high amounts of painkiller. And there's a lot of pain from this snake, trust me on that.
Pete Bethune (00:58:15):
What happens is your liver and kidneys start to get overloaded. And so that monitoring your, monitoring your vitals. And when they start to see your liver and kidney going down the, you know, there's too much stuff going on there. And, you know, they cut back on certain things. Anyway, the docs put me on 15 ampules, so, oh, so when they started administering the, the antivenom, they wait to see that the swelling stops. So once you've been given enough, normally the swelling will stop. And so as the administrator is, I start off with, I put like three or four in, and then another one and another one and my leg just kept growing and growing and growing. And, and like, it was in terms of the girth, like probably at least double the size of my other leg. And the doctor, he said he had, he said, he said, we put the most antivenom in you that I've ever seen, 15 ampules.
Pete Bethune (00:59:08):
And then what happens is you? So then they hit the, they cut back on the antibiotics because my liver and kidney were starting to starting to fail. And they know I ended up problems with my bladder. It was all getting awfully. The league got so big, they were gonna, they were gonna see me off to another hospital where they were going to basically open the league up. So it was so swollen that the blood flow was getting all restricted and they worry that you're gonna lose a leg. But once they start opening up your leg to relieve the pressure, like there's serious stuff now, I'm in the is morphine induced stuper being ttold they're thinking of moving me to another hospital and I might lose my leg and I'm like aaah I'll get some good scars out of that won't I? (laughter) Uand it wasn't until a few days later when they took me off the morphine and put me on Tramadol, and then I started to realize what serious mess I was in.
Matt Waters (01:00:04):
Yeah. How far did the swelling go then? So you got the bite on the calf, was it the whole leg?
Pete Bethune (01:00:13):
By this time it had gone up to my groin, basically. There was another side effect of the of the antivenom. My, my and cock & balls went black, quite disconcerting, (laughter), I called the doc and I said, Is this normal? And the doc was like, uhm yeah yeah. (laughter) Oh, and the other thing with the antivenom is uso what your body does, so you, you've got all this toxic shit in your body and your body's trying to dispose of it in different ways and, and you, your liver and kidneys are starting to struggle. A lot of it somewhat comes out your back. So my back opened up with all these, all these like pustule and I'm like lying in bed with an itchy back and I'm like, pass me that broom; of the orderly there whose name was Rudolfo, RUDOLFO, pass me that broom mate.
Pete Bethune (01:01:04):
Only get managed to get one that pop, but it was, it was a sanitory lesson for me mate, like yeah, I've kinda looked death in the eye a couple of times, but the snake bite was, was a very close. Cool. tell me about curious. I remember when I fist got bitten, I thought I was a dead man, and I remember thinking, I'll make sure I'm okay with it. You know, look, I've, I've lived the dream. I've done so much stuff in the last 10 or 12 years of my life. I've, I've packed so much action and life and goodness and wonderful people and adventures into this 10 or 15 years. And if that was my last night, I would have been okay with it. You're not, you know, I'm thankful, it's not, I'm happy to still be alive and, and, and featuring on your show. But it was a, it was a, an interesting space to be, and we had, this is my last day. I'm okay with it. And you know, I'm happy to be at the other side.
Pete Bethune (01:02:03):
Um my daughter afterwards, she she said, she said, dad, you're like a cat with nine lives. The snakes with toe, you need to be careful. Very, she wrote a very poignant later. So my daughter has amazing command of language, I've had two published books. My daughter at 15, her command of English was better than mine. And she wrote an article that got published in the New Zealand herold and a few other publications picked up. And she basically said what it's like having Pete Bethune as my dad. And and that she, there was a few things. She, she alluded to one was, you know, I, for example, I don't have a house. I don't have a car. I don't sort of subscribe to the way a lot of people live where you get married, have two kids, get a job, save up for your retirement, do a cruise once a year.
Pete Bethune (01:02:57):
You know, like that doesn't interest me in the slightest, but it's, it's the norm that society has. And when I was in prison in Japan, I remember worrying about the optics from a daughter, seeing, you know, they paraded me around like a common criminal and, you know, and, and being held in a maximum security prison and media was often a little bit unfair, like this sort of painted me up as this extreme crackpot, like, you know, I was doing all, I was one of the good guys and what I was doing and trying to say, well anyway, Danielle, any, she sees in this thing, how she got hassled at school about when I got out of prison, you know, that got hassled about me being a dead beat dad and not having a house or not having a car sort of thing. And she, but she went on to say that, you know I'm the lucky one. You know, people who really get to work on stuff they truly believe in. They are the lucky ones, because most people are not on that position. And, you know, I think she sort of conceded that in the early days. She wasn't embarrassed having me as a dad. But made her quite proud.
Matt Waters (01:04:07):
I'm not surprised by it. I'm not surprised at all. You did some amazing stuff.
Pete Bethune (01:04:14):
(Emotionally) Lucky, I've been a lucky lad
Matt Waters (01:04:15):
Yeah. One of my sayings that I've lived by for years is JFDI, just f&*kin do it. And it runs much akin to what you're sort of talking about there because, you know, materialistic things I don't, I don't give a shit about anymore. I use to but not anymore.
Pete Bethune (01:04:37):
I was in that trap, Yeah, I worked in the oil industry. I made a shit ton of money. I imported a porsche 911 back New Zealand I remember one time spending 30,000 USD on a weekend ski trip with my brother and Switzerland. I was earning a quarter of a million US a year, keeping more or less, 30 years ago, we were the highest paid guys on the oil rig and and trust me mate I could spend money like a drunken sailor in those day. We hired at one time, we had,ua travel allowance and it was about 30 grand a year that you could only spend on travel. Uand so when one time our year was about up, and I had all this money that I must spend it. So we hired a Lamborghini in London, and me and my, me and my homie drive around London and turning up at night concert and clubs and stuff in this Lambo. Anyway, I sort of given up on giving up on those days, thankfully. Yeah.
Matt Waters (01:05:50):
And the right choice. So what's what's your daughter doing now? She's doing anything with the English or is she
Pete Bethune (01:05:59):
She works is, she's got a very she's got a very strong humanitarian strict about it. She was she was still at school and she was gonna take, I think it was you who year after finishing school. She's like dad. There's some needy children in the Philippines that need me, I'm going to work in an orphanage and I need you and mum to go splitting the airfare. Thanks. I'm going to work in an orphanage. I need your help sort of thing. So next thing, straight in from school packed her bags. And went there for four or five months working at an orphanage for free in the Philippines, you know, you want your kids to grow up with, with big hearts. And then he, my daughter has an enormous heart on her. And she keeps very deeply about issues in some ways, you know, maybe she's a little bit like me in that regard and that she, you know, she, she cares about issues and is determined to, make a stand on things.
Pete Bethune (01:06:54):
She's the the Chinese embassy. They must have a filing cabinet dedicated to my daughter. (laughter) Sending things about pandas and the dog meat trade. And only, I a letter that goes to an embassy becomes an official document and the embassy has to go reporting it. There's a filing cabinet and the Chinese embassy in Wellington dedicated these days, she works in. And so she does sort of human resources management. So she works for a company that helps people sort of find employment. And she does psych tests and that she graduated top of her class. You've got a master's in psychology. Yeah,
Matt Waters (01:07:39):
A psychologist you analyzed you, then hahaha.
Pete Bethune (01:07:43):
I see it coming in, I say come and have a go there's a field of psychology here hahaha.
Pete Bethune (01:07:51):
But she, she actually has helped us and we've done. She was doing quite a few crew that she, she ran her psych tests on. So they, they use these different, different, you know, like for example, Myers-Briggs and these, or evaluation tools, you can try and figure out whether people are suited to the role or not. And so she's helped us out with a few of those yeah, and my other daughter, but Danny, so she's got that. I think the passionate side of things and caring about things, but do not put her in a, in a boat that doesn't have a hot shower, for example, or that it's going to end it tears. Where's my other daughter, she is so resilient. Like they're traveling around Vietnam on about $5 a day. Vietnam went into lockdown. I don't know if you heard this, this thing Corona going around (laughter). Vietnam locked down early and all the gringos left my daughter and her partner about the only white people left in all of Vietnam. So now they're earning top dollar teaching English because there's no English speakers left in the country hardly. So they might cream and make an extra money,uliving on $5 a day. And I think the plan is that they're going to saving, saving up for a, maybe a 35, 40 foot boat to cross the Pacific. And, oh, I haven't told them that crossing the wrong way. If you want to, do you want to go across the pacific? You're better off doing the Atlantic first and coming right round.
Matt Waters (01:09:13):
Oh, well, if they start traveling through Southeast Asia hit me up, I've got a lot of contacts. Yeah. They can, they could, there's a lot of stop offs Ican give them
Pete Bethune (01:09:23):
People would often say to me, you know, if you're in Charlotte, you know, just hit me up. When you, when you're coming through, I'm there the following week, you might knock on your door. Hahahaha
Matt Waters (01:09:35):
Right. Well, if you ever come to Sydney, we've got to go for a beer that's for sure.
Pete Bethune (01:09:39):
I lived in Epping for a few years, actually. In fact, Australia was where I took up spear fishing, or it wasn't really big in New Zealand. So it, I was in, I lived Sydney was a bit 2000 and 2002 to 2005 thereabouts, and, and one of my mates, he was a spear fisherman out there and went out with him. It was a good lark. Yeah, so it was sort of a start of my spearfishing days. I don't do much these days
Pete Bethune (01:10:06):
Too busy saving wildlife, right? Yeah.
Matt Waters (01:10:11):
Happy days. Right, mate. I'm I think we'll wrap it up though, but we've covered a fair bit of ground. And I thought about, yeah, I need my breakfast over there. You've got to be, are you going to head out on patrol tonight or anything like that?
Pete Bethune (01:10:25):
The entire week we are in Harbor anchored up, I've got the boys doing a bit of maintenance on the boat. We take turns cooking dinner tonight. We've got Josh cooking. He's actually quite a good cook. So we've got a couple of cooks that are not the best. And often they need a little bit of guidance Are you sure you want to go put in that many chilies in there? Yeah, so but this one we can get off a week, which is, which is not, it makes it change because the patrols are relentlesss. Like last week was, was just about all maritime stuff out till four in the morning, getting beaten up by choppy waves. And here it's just, it's in the wet season now. And so it generally at rain starts raining two or three in the evening, two or three in the afternoon, SUNY by five, it's normally raining and it gets windy and it is not pleasant bing out on a boat, two in the morning, getting beaten up by waves, all the windy choppy. I sound like I'm moaning don't I?
Matt Waters (01:11:22):
You sound like you getting a little bit older mate hahaha
Pete Bethune (01:11:25):
Ah mate, the years are ticking over now now. But anyway, so, so last week was got beaten up a lot this week. It's kind of nice to chill out. And then next week we're back in jungle stuff. That should be good. Sorry. I had a dog getting him back in the jungle, which would be cool.
Matt Waters (01:11:38):
What's the things that you, what's, the things that you are heading into the jungle for? Can you say?
Pete Bethune (01:11:44):
So the thing of the jungle here, so at the moment we're in the south of Costa Rica, the biggest problem they have is illegal gold mining. So they have these, these guys go into the jungle and they mine, normally it's Creek beds. And they saw the, is a lot of erosion, or you get some of the mines here being, I've been running them for years. We caught, we caught one guy, man was at 2013 and the guy had been mining the single in fact, there was a team of, three of them. They'd be mining it for three years. And the amount of destruction, like, like what previously, these like this meandering sort of little Creek bed with nooks and crannies and lots of wildlife that was all gone. And, and all it was now was just the straight sort of tunnel going down.
Pete Bethune (01:12:27):
And all the rocks had been piled up on the sand. All the trees were gone around the outside. So where previously there was all these trees hanging over, so were gone. But the worst thing about the mining is live off the wildlife so that, you know, if you have gone in there for six months, you might take it, some coffee, some Pesta some spices, but the shooting, the Gootee, the Tapia, the pickery, the dear, all the wildlife that would be, for example, pray for a Jaguar, a Puma that eating all of that. And then once it's cleaned out, then they start going through the down. Now they're shooting a little Guinea pig things. And, and so whatever's in, there's a double whammy for things like the Puma and Jaguar, they start preying on smaller things. They start praying on birds and other wildlife that normally they would sort of target and you get an area that's had a lot of illegal mining.
Pete Bethune (01:13:12):
Like there's nothing, you know, there might be a couple of snakes on the ground as about it, even monkeys gone, even monkeys. And so there, and, you know, it's a serious problem, especially specie in Corcovado hookah. Bardot is one of the world's greatest national parks. And it is under siege from illegal mining at the moment. Like there was it was an analysis that came out about six months ago is that they believe there's somewhere between a hundred, 150 illegal miners operating in there at the moment. And thats had to catch advocates of big jungle. When they see, you know, things about the drawing and having a tracking dog and it can help us be more effective, you know,
Matt Waters (01:13:49):
Do you ever get thinking outside the box a bit, a little bit here, but do you ever get governments that are just like half-assing it that don't really know what's going on and don't really care?
Pete Bethune (01:14:01):
Yeah. There's plenty of governments that, that are negligent or would suggest, Costa Rica is not one of them. Like the government here is very proud of, you know, I can call the vice minister or the minister for the environment and have a chat to them if we need assistance on something. But when you get them, there was a boat quite a few years ago. Now I busted one in Liberia. So it was a Chinese boat that had been fishing there illegally. And we bought it in a port as a very difficult take down. Like the Chinese are quite difficult to go catching at fishing. You try and board their boat and they start smackin ya. Anyway as I say, we brought this boat in, following day its gone. And they bribed the port captain, port captain let them go. You know, you're not like, why did I spend the last three months here trying to help you guys?
Pete Bethune (01:14:47):
And these premier governments, they often these often there's corruption you know, sometimes when we've done patrols, I've been convinced that word has gotten out to the people we might be targeting. And, you know, some problems that say big corruption might be at a very senior level. Sometimes it might be very low. We're one of the, one of the people you're going in with, you know, talks to someone, they talk to someone and next thing, the poachers know your're going in sort of thing. So it's part of the game, you know, and, and, you know, operational security is something we spend a bit of time thinking about, but when you're dependent on, on a government department and that, you know, you're, you're limited in how much scope you can have this, where having the ship has been good. For example, last week when we were doing maritime patrols in guld adusay. I have the rangers on my ship. We put the, put the boats, that's the, on a cell phone range. And, you know, we have a much greater control over things. Then, you know, if we're, you know, traveling by car and people see the range of vehicle on, on land, it's often tricky with, with informants. We, we filmed an informant a while ago. We were, we had a German film crew here that were following us around at night. We were working our way up this road. And one of the writings is, oh, it's an informant. So we did a u-turn, went back and we didn't let him know we were in at a ranger vehicle. We just hired a local car. So we jumped out with, Hey, you know, what are you doing to of this guy? And he talked quite a lot actually until we started talking about the illegal GoldMining and then he gets a bit funny and jumps on a motorbike and scoots off. The maritime stuff can be a little bit easy. Like, you know, we're on our own ship and we can move around. We're going to, we're going to Zodiac. No, probably little, some little boat. I don't know if you know much about Saudi X, but they, we got given this Zodiac and be up and I'll got given this and 2011, I'll use it in the Namibia mission.
Matt Waters (01:16:42):
Yeah. That's it. Yeah. I saw you guys slipping into the water off shore.
Pete Bethune (01:16:47):
Yeah. There's one. So I've had that since 2011 and it is still going, I got a cheap knockoff, 530, my 470 you've made it. And I bought a 5.3 meter cheap knockoff late in the states. It lasted about six months and federal, but saying it, my 470 is still going. Uyou know, and we've been, we've had to do a little bit of work on it over the years. We, we just got the, the keels just got them recovered a short time ago to veil surplus. But they're an amazing little boat. One of, probably my favorite, my favorite boat at the moment. And that thing is low profile. Oh, we busted a boat the other day. That's right. We were doing that. When we're doing the off shore stuff, we ran it. We ended up at Conney island and we were just chilling out in the afternoon.
Pete Bethune (01:17:31):
Normally illegal fishing happens at night. It's rare that you're getting one a day. Right. And we just sit near, one of the crews comes down. He said, Pete, I think these guys are fishing over here. And so we were only about, we're been a mile from the spice called Diablo or devil's rock. And so we sort of get the bar. He could be hit different, definitely had outriggers for fishing, but he was stationary. So I was pretty sure he was stuck over the stables, which was quite, quite amazing for fish. And we went there a while ago. We went diving the, saw a whale shark, and sometimes they've manta rays. Certainly we, we get a little drone. We fly this out. Sure enough, here, the guy sitting there with some jigs and he catching fish and we got on the Zodiac and,uthere's no to yet.
Pete Bethune (01:18:14):
Cause it's low. You can get really close a little bit, a hundred, got a little weak 40 horse on it. So it's quite covert and you can often sneak up on these guys. And then by the time these guys realized that we were, and it was a bit of chop as well. So we were buried in the chop. Most keeping it, his dad pulled up on the sky. He starts his motor and a big bellow of smoke as heads off. But we had that speed, we couldn't keep up with them if we really got going, because it was super choppy, but we got toasted enough. They've managed to manage the claimer board and it comes back and he was this fat cat American, million dollar boat. Like it was 65 feet long, like a big, big boat, probably a $20,000 worth of fishing gear on the back deck.
Pete Bethune (01:18:51):
Like he had like the latest, most expensive, old, super long braids and thousand lures and jigs and all this equipment. And anyway, he's not as a Marine was here. I wouldn't be fishing here. I was like, I was going to give, why did you start heading off soon as we started pulling up aye. And,uI I'll tell you, it's funny. Like I, you know, a lot of illegal fishing here is a fair chunk is local people and often they just trying to feed the family and I have a degree of sympathy for them, but you go and you come down here and a million dollar boat and you start fishing on a Marine reserve I have a serious problem with it. Anyway. So I posted them all over my Facebook page he's quite well known down in Costa Rica now (laughter). Now I'm here and I'm not sure, I think he's probably going to be prosecuted, but the prosecution here, mt takes a while for it to work its way through. So I'm not sure what what's going to happen to him over there, but anyway,
Matt Waters (01:19:45):
Right, mate time for brekkie, I think. Thank you so much for coming on the show and you know, on a short notice and you're heading off out to do all the good stuff that you do keep doing what you're doing. And I, I do hope that people are listening to this, get onto your website have looked through it all. And I, I bet anyone out there to watch your 17 minute talk or TEDx presentation without getting a choke in the throat or a tear in the eye. Good on you, mate.
Pete Bethune (01:20:16):
Yeah. Yeah. Thanks. Right. That was, that was a, it's funny with that Ted talk, the ducks just lined up my, you know, I got knifed in Brazil and couple of days later, I'm giving a Tedtalk and I remember leading up to it. I didn't, I was kind of cried out, like I would, I rehearsed it so many times and then I got cold feet and I didn't want to go and do it. And, and went down. I was worried that the way you had sort of written that, like Ted talks, you've got to rock it's scripted. You're not only have to just get up and freeform. And and I was alive. They'd given me the last slot of the TeDx, given that, you know, what I need just to arrived back and I needed time to prepare it. And I was worried I was gonna muff it, but I got up on the stage and my two girls right in the front row. It just, now it'd be the best talk I ever give, you know, and just the fact that, so, so soon after being knifed and having everything just sort of got back in the country and it really was still very raw for me and very proud of that talk.
Matt Waters (01:21:19):
I've watched a lot of Ted talk dude. And I've got to say that's the best one I've ever seen, well done,
Pete Bethune (01:21:25):
Thanks, Man. I appreciate it aye. I to any of the listeners who we there'll be the odd one out there that says they want to come and help, a couple things I can do is we do take volunteers. And basically just check me down on Facebook or go to the website or my email and WhatsApp and everything is all over there. So easy to track down, like on Facebook, on Instagram, on Twitter, similar messages, any of those, you know, I'll get it. So we certainly take volunteers. I may even like to donate, go and ship on one of the projects and and care about the planet care about this lovely planet we've been blessed with.
Matt Waters (01:22:02):
Yeah. Yeah. I wholeheartedly agree. And I'll check into the mix there as well that you know, scuba GOAT has created a network group on Facebook and it's to maintain a connection between the listeners and the guests that come on the show. Pete's going to be jumping in on that. And when he's not in the jungle or swinging from trees or playing commando across the water, then I'm sure there'll be some posts going on in there and you can get in touch with them through that as well.
Pete Bethune (01:22:32):
Sounds good. I appreciate you having us on the show too. Been, been an absolute pleasure.
Matt Waters (01:22:37):
Oh my pleasure, indeed. Dude let's talk again and thank you so much for everything you do.
All right. Bye. Everybody.