Activists Descend on Whaling Reenactment off Sag Harbor

Hamptons History Association whaling ship and spectators
Drone shot of Hamptons History Association whaling ship and spectators, Photo: Aleksandrs Kendenkovs/123RF

The Hamptons Police Department Marine Patrol was forced to interrupt a historic whaling reenactment in the waters off Sag Harbor on Tuesday after self-proclaimed activists attempted to make a waterborne citizen’s arrest. Officers, who were there to make sure the event went smoothly, were incredulous when an inflatable Zodiac motorboat arrived and rammed the Hamptons Historical Association’s (HHA) restored 1846 tallship, intervening in what they believed was illegal whaling.

“By the time our team saw what was happening, these zealous activists had already slung grappling hooks onto the ship and were climbing aboard,” HPD spokesman Rex Gallant explained on Wednesday morning. “Once topside, the men and women from the Zodiac started disarming HHA members of their harpoons and tackling them on the deck, all while calling re-enactors ‘disgusting’ and berating them about the ‘sanctity of these beautiful animals.’”

A large swath of the community had braved the cold and boarded their own boats, or joined the HHA on the tallship, to watch the simulated whaling on Tuesday, but their excitement quickly turned to abject horror and total panic when they saw the HHA re-enactors under attack. “Total chaos broke out on the ship,” Gallant said. “Apparently, the activists had seen a livestream on social media and had not taken the time to investigate the true nature of what they were watching. They were so pumped up to save a whale, these guys just reacted and sped off toward the action,” he continued, adding, “The misinformed do-gooders ran their own livestream from the moment they boarded their Zodiac, so we have quite a lot of video evidence from both the victims and the perpetrators.”

Officers finally fought their way onto the tallship and managed to get the situation under control, but not before several endured physical attacks from activists who somehow believed police might be in on a plan to flagrantly ignore the Endangered Species Act and Marine Mammal Protection Act. “This, of course, is not something the Hamptons Police Department would ever do,” Gallant said, recounting Tuesday’s incident. “These activists clearly meant well, but what they did is part of a wider problem—people need to stop reacting immediately and thoughtlessly to what they see on social media,” the HPD spokesman noted. “We’re asking everyone to spend just a little more time gathering all the facts before responding to anything online, whether they’re leaving a nasty comment or mounting a full-fledged, physical attack on other people.”

Hamptons Police detectives are reviewing footage of Tuesday’s hullabaloo in order to determine who will be charged with what crime, Gallant explained. “At this point, the only thing I can say for sure, is that nobody will be cited for illegal whaling.”

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