For the past several years, June has brought us a new television season of “Whale Wars.” But this year the production has been delayed, and nobody seems to know when the show is likely to air.
Whale Wars, of course, is the weekly documentary showing confrontations on the high seas, as Sea Shepherd Conservation Society tries to stop Japanese whaling in the Antarctic.
As I reported in January (Water Ways, Jan. 4), Sea Shepherd hired its own film crew during this past whaling season (summer in the Antarctic, winter here). At the time, it seemed like the group did so to be able to control the filming. But in a new blog entry in The New Yorker, Raffi Khatchadourian suggests that it was the Animal Planet producers who got cold feet, given the Ninth Circuit Court injunction that prevented Sea Shepherd from getting within 500 feet of the Japanese ships.
The U.S. affiliate of Sea Shepherd and Capt. Paul Watson himself withdrew from the anti-whaling campaign, leaving in charge the Australian affiliate, which is not subject to U.S. court jurisdiction.
Brian Eley, senior communications manager for Discovery Channel, responded to my inquiry yesterday, saying it isn’t clear when Season 6 of “Whale Wars” will air. Footage was delayed this year “through no fault of anyone.”
I asked whether it was a decision of Sea Shepherd or Animal Planet to have Sea Shepherd crew members do the filming.
“Last year, Sea Shepherd said they were taking over the footage first,” Eley said. “We don’t want to contradict them, but certainly each side had reasons to go with the current deal.
“I can honestly say,” he added, “I am not sure when the series will air, but it will.”
Meanwhile, Sea Shepherd is preparing for its 10th campaign against the Japanese whalers, after touting much success in the last trip to the Antarctic. For details, check out the following news releases issued by Sea Shepherd, along with this video, which offers a preview of the dramatic footage we can expect to see if and when “Whale Wars – Season 6” comes to television.