About 19 advanced kayakers learned self-rescue techniques and how to assist when a kayak capsizes in anticipation of the upcoming flotilla protest May 16 in Elliott Bay.

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Judging from the water-safety preparations and drills off Seacrest Park in West Seattle, kayakers are ready for their upcoming mission to protest Shell oil rigs drilling in the Arctic.

On Sunday, approximately 19 advanced kayakers learned self-rescue techniques and how to assist when a kayak capsizes in anticipation of the upcoming flotilla protest May 16 in Elliott Bay.

Through the Shell No! Action Council, hundreds of kayakers will join forces to oppose the Port of Seattle’s decision to allow Terminal 5 to be used as a staging area for Arctic drilling.

It’s part of a three-day awareness campaign that will end May 18 with a mass water blockade to shut down Shell operations at the port.

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As a guide at Alki Kayak Tours, Amanda Lee started training activists and then became one herself.

“I’ve never been an activist type, but I’m concerned about climate change,” she said. With Shell using Seattle, Lee said, “It’s at our front doorstep. I care about the water and sea life.”

The 400-foot-long Polar Pioneer will explore the Arctic, off Alaska’s North Slope, for offshore oil that would supply the trans-Alaska pipeline. It now is in Port Angeles and will be towed to Seattle in a couple weeks.

The Coast Guard has created safety zones around Shell’s fleet of ships and will enforce a 100-yard safety zone after they arrive. Protesters who enter the zones could face civil and criminal penalties.

But that’s not going to stop some like kayaker John Bito of Seattle who said he’s prepared to be arrested.

“Petroleum companies are starting to control us, and now we learn they are on the verge of destroying the planet,” he said. “This is part of waking people up to that fact. We have to show this is our port and Shell is trespassing.”

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