It has just turned winter in the Northern Hemisphere, which
means that it is now summer in the Southern Hemisphere. The
Japanese whaling fleet has entered the Southern Ocean to kill up to
a self-designated quota of 333 minke whales, and Sea Shepherd has
We have heard the story before, and many of us have watched the
drama play out during six seasons of the TV series “Whale Wars” on
Animal Planet. This year, Sea Shepherd hopes to have an advantage
with a ship declared to be faster than the Japanese whaling
vessels, as I explained in
Water Ways at the end of August.
On Dec. 3, the Sea Shepherd vessel Steve Irwin left Melbourne,
Australia, for the Southern Ocean for its 11th campaign against the
whalers. The Steve Irwin was followed a day later by the new ship,
Ocean Warrior. Yesterday, the Ocean Warrior located one of the
Japanese harpoon vessels, the Yushin Maru, inside the Southern
Ocean Whale Sanctuary, according to Capt. Adam Meyerson, the
skipper of the Ocean Warrior.
“The crews of the Ocean Warrior and the MV Steve Irwin have been
battling through thick fog and ice to protect the whales in the
Australian whale sanctuary,” Meyerson said in a
news release. “The Yushin Maru was hiding behind an iceberg and
came out on a collision course.
“Finding one of the hunter-killer ships hiding behind an iceberg
in a thick fog means that the rest of the fleet is nearby,” he
added. “We all hope to have whaling in the Southern Ocean shut down
An organization called Sea Shepherd Global
announced yesterday that it will take up the cause of battling
Japanese whaling ships in the Southern Ocean of Antarctica later
The announcement comes just days after court approval of a legal
settlement, a deal that will forever block Sea Shepherd
Conservation Society from confronting Japanese whalers on the high
Sea Shepherd Global, based in The Netherlands, apparently is out
of reach of the U.S. courts, which sanctioned the original Sea
Shepherd group for its sometimes violent actions against the
whalers. Sea Shepherd Conservation Society, the U.S. group, is led
by its founder, Capt. Paul Watson, who had stepped down for a
Sea Shepherd Global has mobilized its forces for what it calls
the “11th direct-action whale defense campaign.” The group has
built a new ship it claims can keep up with and surpass the
Japanese harpoon ships. Anyone who has watched “Whales
Wars,” the reality television series, probably knows that Sea
Shepherd’s ships have suffered from a lack of speed and were often
left in wake of the whaling vessels.
Sea Shepherd, with its fierce opposition to killing marine
mammals, has always claimed to be on the right side of
international law when it comes to whaling. Now its members are
inspired by a 2014 ruling in the International Court of Justice,
which found that whaling — at least as practiced by Japanese
whalers — is not a scientific endeavor. The Japanese government has
lost its only justification for whaling until it develops new
scientific protocols acceptable to the International Whaling
Commission. Review a discussion of these issues in Water Ways,
March 31, 2014, with an update on
Dec. 14, 2015.
Sea Shepherd Global also justifies its plans with a
contempt-of-court citation filed by the Australian Federal Court
against the Japanese whalers for killing protected whales within
the Australia Whale Sanctuary. Japan, however, does not recognize
the sanctuary nor the Australian jurisdiction.
“If we cannot stop whaling in an established whale sanctuary, in
breach of both Australian Federal and international laws, then what
hope do we have for the protection of the world’s oceans?” asked
Jeff Hansen, managing director of Sea Shepherd Australia in a
news release. “We must make a stand and defend whales with
everything we’ve got.”
After the International Court of Justice ruling, the Japanese
took a year off from whaling before submitting a new whaling plan,
which was questioned by a scientific committee at the International
Whaling Commission. Without waiting for approval, the whalers
returned to the Southern Ocean last December. A limited Sea
Shepherd fleet followed, but the whalers killed 333 minke whales —
a quota approved by the Japanese government but nobody else.
Meanwhile, Sea Shepherd Conservation Society (SSCS) has been
engaged in a legal battle with the Japanese-sponsored Institute of
Cetacean Research in the U.S. courts. Initially, a U.S. district
judge dismissed the Japanese claims. On appeal, however, the Ninth
Circuit Court of Appeals called Sea Shepherd a “pirate”
organization, ordered the group to stay away from the Japanese
ships and eventually found Sea Shepherd in contempt of court for a
peripheral involvement in the anti-whaling effort. Initial appeals
Water Ways, Feb. 26, 2013.
SSCS agreed to pay $2.55 million to settle a damage claim from
Japan in light of the contempt ruling. The group had been hoping
that Japan’s lawsuit in the U.S. courts would open the door for a
countersuit, in which the illegality of Japanese whaling would
spelled out and confirmed.
All legal claims and counterclaims were dropped in the
settlement agreement (PDF 410 kb) between SSCS and the
Institute of Cetacean Research. The agreement, approved last week
by U.S. District Judge James Robart, says SSCS cannot approach
Japanese whaling ships closer than 500 yards. SSCS cannot provide
financial support to anyone else who would approach the Japanese
ships in an aggressive way, including “any entity that is part of
the worldwide ‘Sea Shepherd’ movement and/or uses or has used some
version of the ‘Sea Shepherd’ name.”
The agreement mentions a “settlement consideration to be paid to
Sea Shepherd Conservation Society,” although the amount has not
The Institute of Cetacean Research immediately issued a news release
about the settlement. Paul Watson offered a three-pronged post on
page. One part was his own message, saying Sea Shepherd would
remain opposed to whaling but would comply with the settlement
Another part was a statement from Capt. Alex Cornelissen,
director of Sea Shepherd Global:
“The ruling in the US courts affects ONLY the US entity. All the
other Sea Shepherd entities in the Global movement are not bound by
the US legal system, the mere assumption that it does clearly
demonstrates a lack of understanding of Sea Shepherd Global’s
structure. Sea Shepherd Global and all other entities around the
world, other than the USA, will continue to oppose the illegal
Japanese whaling in the Antarctic.”
“Jeff Hansen, managing director of Sea Shepherd Australia, told
the BBC the U.S. ruling would ‘absolutely not’ affect its own
operations. He said if the ICC (sic, ICR?) were to pursue Sea
Shepherd in Australia ‘they would be entering into a court system
they’re in contempt of, and we would welcome that.’”
statement yesterday, Sea Shepherd Global said it was
disappointed that the international community has not taken more
steps to protect whales in the Southern Ocean. Still, Sea Shepherd
Global will be there with a new fast ship, the Ocean Warrior, built
with the financial support of the Dutch Postcode Lottery, the
British People’s Postcode Lottery and the Svenska
“For the first time, we will have the speed to catch and outrun
the Japanese harpoon ships, knowing speed can be the deciding
factor when saving the lives of whales in the Southern Ocean,” said
The Ocean Warrior will undergo final preparations in Australia
at the end of the year, about the time that Japanese whaling ships
arrive for their anticipated harvest of marine mammals. And so the
whale wars will go on but without any involvement from Paul Watson
and his U.S. contingent.
By the way, Paul, who had been living in exile in France, has
returned to the U.S., according to a
news release from Sea Shepherd that recounts Paul’s history of
fleeing from prosecutors in Japan and Costa Rica. Paul, 65, and his
wife, Yanina Rusinovich, a Russian-born opera singer, are now
living in Woodstock, Vermont, and expecting a baby in October.
The seventh season of “Whale Wars” — a three-hour presentation
premiering on Friday — follows on the heels of an unresolved
contempt-of-court ruling against Sea Shepherd Conservation Society
earlier this month.
The new program, to be shown at 5 p.m. and again at 8 p.m. on
Animal Planet network, documents the 2013-2014 Antarctic whaling
season and the sometimes-violent confrontation between Sea Shepherd
and Japanese whalers. Check out the
While Sea Shepherd faces some serious court rulings, the
Japanese government finds itself in conflict with the International
Court of Justice, which concluded that its “scientific” whaling
program does not conform to scientific principles — which was the
legal justification for the program — so the whaling must stop, at
least for now. See
Water Ways, March 24, 2014.
Paul Watson, founder of Sea Shepherd, appears to have ticked off
the U.S. Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, which first called his
group a “pirate” operation in December 2012. The court issued an
injunction to keep Sea Shepherd ships at least 500 feet away from
the Japanese whaling vessels. (See
Water Ways, Feb. 26, 2013.)
In its latest ruling on Dec. 19, the court says Watson and Sea
Shepherd’s U.S. board of directors acted contrary to its injunction
by shifting their anti-whaling operations over to the related group
Sea Shepherd, Australia. In the court’s view, Watson should have
done what was necessary to halt the anti-whaling tactics, not find
a way to continue them. As
Judge Milan D. Smith, Jr. wrote in his findings (PDF 127
“Sea Shepherd US’s separation strategy effectively nullified our
injunction by ensuring that OZT (Operation Zero Tolerance)
proceeded unimpeded, in part by using former Sea Shepherd US
assets. Sea Shepherd US ceded control over OZT to Sea Shepherd
Australia and other Sea Shepherd entities it believed to be beyond
the injunction’s reach, knowing these entities were virtually
certain to violate the injunction.
“At the same time, Sea Shepherd US continued to provide
financial and other support for OZT after the injunction by, among
other things, transferring for no consideration a vessel and
equipment worth millions of dollars to Sea Shepherd Australia and
“Rather than instruct its employees to help prevent OZT, Sea
Shepherd US effectively shifted these employees to its affiliates’
payrolls to ensure continued participation in a campaign it knew
was very likely to result in violations of the injunction…
“Our objective in issuing the injunction was to stop Sea
Shepherd from attacking the plaintiffs’ vessels. Sea Shepherd US
thwarted that objective by furnishing other Sea Shepherd entities
with the means to do what it could not after the issuance of the
injunction. It has long been settled law that a person with notice
of an injunction may be held in contempt for aiding and abetting a
party in violating it.”
These court findings were all related to Operation Zero
Tolerance, the Sea Shepherd campaign that ended in March of 2013.
The ruling did not address Operation Relentless, which ended in
March of 2014 and is the subject of Friday’s “Whale Wars” event. I
wonder if Japan will attempt to use the U.S. courts to collect for
damages related to the latest conflict.
The International Court of Justice ruling against the Japanese
whaling operations seems to have had no effect on how the U.S.
Court of Appeals views Sea Shepherd’s actions. Sea Shepherd’s
activities were still illegal, the court ruled, and the injunction
would still be needed if the whaling were to resume under
conditions acceptable to the international court. See
“order denying defendants’ motion to dismiss” (PDF 308 kb).
In fact, although whaling was suspended for the 2014-15 season,
the Japanese government has submitted a new plan
(PDF 2.3 mb) to resume whaling at this time next year. The plan
calls for an annual harvest of 333 minke whales — as opposed to the
previous plan to take 850 minkes, 50 humpbacks and 50 fin whales.
For additional insight on the controversy, read Dennis Normile’s
Science Insider, affiliated with Science magazine.
As for the upcoming “Whale Wars” special, a
news release from Animal Planet says the action will be as
exciting as ever, even with Paul Watson gone from the scene:
“With Captain (Peter) Hammarstedt once again at the helm and
tensions with the whalers at an all-time high, this new campaign
will likely be the most aggressive and dangerous the Sea Shepherds
This episode of “Whale Wars” was produced by Lizard Trading
Company, using raw footage filmed by Sea Shepherd crew members.
That’s similar to the arrangement for last year’s two-hour special.
Water Ways, Nov. 7, 2013.)
Well, it’s that time of year again. The Japanese whaling fleet
is headed toward the Antarctic to kill whales, and Sea Shepherd
Conservation Society is waiting with an increased armada to
frustrate the whaling effort.
The level of intrigue has increased substantially this year, as
Capt. Paul Watson of Sea Shepherd has become an international
fugitive and Sea Shepherd finds itself under a U.S. court order to
maintain a safe distance from the Japanese fleet.
Even the television show “Whale Wars” could be different this
year, as Sea Shepherd has hired its own camera crew. That move has
left network executives at Animal Planet somewhat uncertain about
the upcoming sixth season of the show.
News reported that the Japanese “research whaling fleet” left
the Shimonoseki Port in Western Japan last Friday. The Japan
Times reported that the Japanese Fisheries Agency has
authorized a take of up to 935 minke whales and 50 fin whales this
Sea Shepherd crews departed for the Southern Ocean in
mid-December with four vessels, including the latest addition — the
184-foot SSS Sam Simon, a former Japanese government vessel once
used for meteorological research. The formidable ship, which has a
hull strengthened for ice, was purchased for Sea Shepherd by the
co-creator of “The Simpsons.” Read more in
Sea Shepherd’s news release.
Meanwhile, Sea Shepherd’s leader, Paul Watson, was arrested in
Frankfort, Germany, last May on charges relating to an incident in
Central America in 2002. He was released on bail but failed to
check in the following month, as required by conditions of his
release. Siobhan Dowling reported on the incident for
In December, Paul told
Associated Press reporter Manuel Valdes that he wanted to stay
at sea. He contends that the Costa Rican government was pressured
by Japan to seek his extradition.
“I want to stay in the ocean. I’m not going to be able to do
that from some holding cell in Japan,” Watson, who now has no
passport, was quoted as saying.
On Dec. 13, the U.S. State Department issued a joint
statement with the governments of Australia, the Netherlands
and New Zealand calling for vessels in the Southern Ocean to
observe international collision-avoidance rules:
“We are deeply concerned that confrontations in the Southern
Ocean will eventually lead to injury or loss of life among
protestors, many of whom are nationals of our countries, and
“We remain resolute in our opposition to commercial whaling,
including so-called ‘scientific’ whaling, in particular in the
Southern Ocean Whale Sanctuary established by the International
Whaling Commission, and are disappointed about the recent departure
of the Japanese whaling fleet for the Southern Ocean.”
“We at Sea Shepherd have no problem with this. We haven’t
sustained any serious injury nor have we caused any injury at sea
in 33 years and certainly not in the last six voyages to the
“What the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society welcomes, however,
is the fact that the statement issued by the four nations clearly
condemns the illegal whaling activities of the Japanese whaling
fleet. This statement validates and encourages Sea Shepherd
intervention during Operation No Compromise this year.”
But Sea Shepherd faced a new turn of events on Dec. 17, when the
Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals issued a preliminary injunction
prohibiting Sea Shepherd — and Paul Watson specifically — from
“physically attacking” the Japanese whaling fleet or from
“navigating in a manner that is likely to endanger the safe
navigation of any such vessel.”
The order (PDF 37 kb) prohibits Sea Shepherd from getting any
closer than 500 yards to the Japanese ships. The injunction will
remain in effect until a final ruling is issued by the U.S.
District Court, which could come about the end of this year.
A well-written analysis of the hearing before the Court of
Appeals was provided by June Williams of Courthouse
News Service. An audio
recording of the lively hearing is available from the Ninth
“It looks like the Japanese whaling fleet is ready to rumble,”
Watson responded in a
written commentary issued the same day the injunction was
announced. He continued:
“It is a complex situation whereby a United States court is
issuing an injunction against Dutch and Australian vessels carrying
an international crew, operating out of Australia and New Zealand
in international waters and the waters of the Australian Antarctic
Economic Zone. In addition, the court has ignored the fact that the
Japanese whalers are in contempt of a court order by the Australian
Federal Court and the whaling takes place in the Southern Ocean
“We will defend these whales as we have for the last eight years
– non-violently and legally.”
So now the stage is set for another confrontation in the
Southern Ocean. As the whaling season goes on, we’ll get the usual
conflicting news releases from Sea Shepherd and the Japanese
whalers. But how the events are portrayed on the television program
“Whale Wars” may be influenced by a change in film crew.
Before the ships’ departure, Sea Shepherd advertised for its own
film crew to replace an independent crew previously used by Animal
Planet. Officials with the network confirmed to me that they do not
have a film crew on board at this time.
Blogger Michael Destries reported that Sea Shepherd officials
hired their own crew to provide “greater flexibility for
How this will play out for the show “Whale Wars” is yet to be
seen, but Sea Shepherd apparently intends to provide footage to the
Animal Planet spokesman Brian Eley told me that the network
plans to air a sixth season of “Whale Wars,” but the two parties
are still working out some critical details. Animal Planet owns the
name “Whale Wars,” the show’s format and everything that goes with
The program is important to both organizations. “Whale Wars”
helped transform Animal Planet from a children’s channel to an
adult network, and the program has served the goals of Sea Shepherd
almost beyond belief.
Brian said it is important to Animal Planet to maintain
editorial control over “Whale Wars” with a documentary format and a
“neutral point of view.”
“Every year, there are certain things that they (Sea Shepherd
officials) disagree with over how we portray them,” he said. “But
we have a good relationship with them, and I think people like the
show the way it is.”
Brian did not seem to think it was too late to get an
independent film crew on board, which would be the preference of
Animal Planet executives.
He concurred that this was a “banner year for legality” facing
Sea Shepherd, but Animal Planet is not caught up in that drama. The
network has been careful to simply document the group’s activities,
he said, not influence what the group does or does not do.
UPDATE, Jan. 5, 2010
Sea Shepherd is reporting tonight that the futuristic Ady Gil was
cut in half and may have been sunk by the Shonan Maru 2 in the
frigid Southern Ocean. All six crew were rescued, according to a
release by the group.
The Institute of Cetacean Research, which speaks for the
Japanese whaling fleet, made no mention of the collision in its
release (PDF 38 kb). But the group complained that the Ady Gil
came within collision distance, tried to entangle the Shonan Maru 2
propeller, deployed a green laser and fired projectiles that
contained butyric acid.
In other new developments, Sea Shepherd has acquired a new ship,
the Bob Barker, named for the television personality who donated $5
million to the cause. The vessel, a former Norwegian harpoon ship,
has joined the battle. Reuters is
covering the story.
UPDATE, Jan. 1, 2010
The Sea Shepherd vessel Steve Irwin has left Australia. Here’s the
comment from Capt. Paul Watson in a news
“Thanks to the stormy weather, there was no possibility of a
chartered flight locating the Steve Irwin and we were able to pass
back into international waters without any sign of the Shonan Maru
No. 2. They will be hard pressed to locate us now and without them
on our tail, I am confident that we will be able to track down the
whale poachers in the Australian Antarctic Territory.”
The so-called “Whale Wars” continue in the Antarctic, involving
Japanese whalers and the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society, which
is trying to thwart their activities.
The conflict has escalated this year, with new vessels, new
“weapons” and new tactics. And the battle line for publicity seems
to be growing more intense. I’ll recount some of the action in a
moment, but first allow me to set the scene.
Sea Shepherd left Australia for Antarctic waters on Dec. 7 and
soon learned that the enemy, the Japanese whalers, had shifted
tactics, keeping a ship close to the Sea Shepherd and allowing
ship-to-ship clashes to become more frequent.
Sea Shepherd brought a new ship into the battle this year. The
high-speed trimaran, formerly the “Earthrace” and recently renamed
the “Ady Gil” — can do 50 knots in good conditions.
Unlike Sea Shepherd’s mother ship, the Steve Irwin, the
futuristic Ady Gil can keep up with, and even outrun, the Japanese
On board the Steve Irwin, a film crew is capturing the action
again this year and preparing for the third season of “Whale Wars”
— the highest-rated television series on the Animal Planet
In many ways, the primary battlefront in these whale wars is
public perception about the actions and motives of the Japanese
whalers and the Sea Shepherd crews. Sea Shepherd officials are
quite up front about this, as Laurens de Groot, director for the
Netherlands branch of the organization, stated in a news
“Letting the world see what happens to the whales in the
Southern Ocean is the most powerful anti-whaling weapon at our
disposal. The cameras are more powerful than cannons, and our
ammunition is the naked truth about illegal whaling. We intend to
keep the focus on Japanese crimes, and we intend to sink the
Japanese whaling fleet — economically.”
So I guess it is no surprise that the Japanese whalers are
responding by speaking out through an organization called the
Institute of Cetacean Research. Last year, its director, Minoru
Morimoto, issued a statement (PDF 20
“It is difficult to understand why a mainstream network would
stoop so low as to produce a series that glamorizes and thereby
gives support to ecoterrorism. Sea Shepherd’s criminal actions last
year in the Antarctic were encouraged directly through the presence
of the Animal Planet film team. Animal Planet is responsible for
inciting this increased violence and aiding and abetting an
international criminal organization.”
As the war of war of words escalates, let me recount some of
this year’s actions: Continue reading →
Is all whaling the same? I don’t think so, but I am beginning to
see why anti-whaling groups wish to draw a line in the sand and
stop all whale killing.
I admit I am fascinated by the program “Whale Wars” on the
Animal Planet network. The weekly show gives us an inside look at
how the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society confronts Japanese
whalers in the Antarctic.
I also admit to believing that Japanese whalers are probably not
taking enough minke whales to harm the regional population in the
Antarctic. And surely the so-called “scientific research” is at
least keeping track of the populations, the number of whales killed
and their genetic makeup.
But new research coming out of Oregon State University has
profoundly shifted my attitude about Japanese whaling and the dire
need for increased international attention.
DNA analysis of whale meat sold to the public has revealed that
perhaps as many whales are killed in coastal areas near Japan and
South Korea — where whaling is outlawed under international
agreement — as are taken in the Antarctic.
How can this be?
The dead minke whales from coastal waters, apparently not always
counted, are attributed to incidental “bycatch” in net fisheries,
according to Scott Baker, associate director of the Marine Mammal
Institute at OSU.
Japan and South Korea are the only countries that allow this
kind of bycatch to be sold, he says.
Baker and his colleague, Vimoksalehi Lukoscheck of the
University of California-Irvine, presented their findings at the
recent meeting of the International Whaling Commission. It was
there that Japan was seeking approval to allow whaling off its
Baker says the Japanese proposal demands careful scrutiny, given
his findings and the need to identify and sustain distinct stocks
of minke whales.
.“The sale of bycatch alone supports a lucrative trade in whale
meat at markets in some Korean coastal cities, where the wholesale
price of an adult minke whale can reach as high as $100,000,” Baker
said in an
OSU news release. “Given these financial incentives, you have
to wonder how many of these whales are, in fact, killed
Baker said the bycatch of whales provides a cover for illegal
whaling, which is difficult to detect. Last year, Korean police
began to look into organized illegal whaling in the port town of
Ulsan, where they seized 50 tons minke whale meat.
Baker’s genetic studies have identified other whale meat on the
market as well — including some from humpback whales, fin whales,
Bryde’s whales and the critically endangered western Pacific gray
whales, which may be on the verge of extinction.
I believe hunting has its place in wildlife management, but the
Asian marketing in dead whales appears to be out of control and
troubling on many levels.
Anti-whaling groups are turning to economics as a key reason why
all countries should discontinue commercial whaling.
A report commissioned by the International Fund for
Animal Welfare concludes that the whale-watching industry has
more than doubled over the past decade. In 2008, more than 13
million people in 119 countries and territories participated in
whale watching, generating a total $2.1 billion in direct
expenditures, the report says.
Across the globe, the whale watching industry has grown at an
average rate of 3.7% per year, comparing well against global
tourism growth of 4.2% per year over the same period.
But the growth rate of whale watching at a global level tells
only part of the story. At a regional level, average annual growth
has occurred well above growth in tourism rates in five of the
seven regions in this report: Asia (17% per year), Central America
and the Caribbean (13% per year), South America (10% per year),
Oceania and the Pacific Islands (10% per year) and Europe (7%),
evidence of strongly emerging industries…
The picture that emerges is of an industry that provides a new
model for use of natural resources — an industry that relies on
whales in a non‐extractive way. That, when well managed, can be
truly sustainable and provide a sharp contrast to the days when
whales were seen solely as a resource to be hunted and
Iceland and Japan argue that whaling is an important cultural
tradition and should be maintained even as the whale-watching
“Allegations that whaling affects whale watching have proven not
to be true,” said Tomas Heidar, Iceland’s commissioner to the IWC,
in a report by
Richard Black of the BBC. “On the contrary, whale watching has
been growing steadily in the last few years after our resumption of
commercial whaling [in 2006].”
Filming of the second season of “Whale Wars” is under way, and
today Paul Watson, leader of Sea Shepherd Conservation Society,
claimed to have the Japanese whaling fleet on the run.
I’d like to ask a question of all you readers of Water Ways.
Would you like me to provide occasional updates on Sea Shepherd’s
controversial tactics, or do believe it is wrong to give this
organization the extensive publicity it is already receiving?
I’m open to arguments on both sides.
Meanwhile, let me tell you what has been happening with Sea
Shepherd and its television series “Whale Wars,” which completed
its first season on Animal Planet this week and is going into
A news release issued today quotes Watson:
“It does not get more real than this. While people are sitting
in their living rooms watching our campaign against the whalers
that took place last season, we are at the same time in the icy
hostile seas of Antarctica engaged with the whalers this season.
There is an Animal Planet crew on board and the cameras are rolling
for season two of Whale Wars.”
Yesterday, Watson reported that Sea Shepherd’s boat, the Steve
Irwin, caught up with the harpoon ship Yushin Maru #2. The small
Delta boat was launched with the idea of pelting the ship with
stinky butter bombs, but it had to be called back because of high
winds and rough sea conditions.
The Yushin Marin #2 was a ship that members of Sea Shepherd
boarded last year, one of the dramatic moments in Season One of
“Whale Wars.” Because of that controversial action and other
life-risking incidents, the series quickly picked up an audience
and was a big winner for Animal Planet, according to
Variety magazine, which reports on show business.
This year the Japanese ship reportedly has installed a net over
its side to prevent any further boardings.
Meanwhile, producers of the program have invited Japanese
officials to participate in the second season, perhaps to offer a
more balanced view of events.
As you may have heard, actress Daryl Hannah has
joined the crew for this year’s campaign in the Antarctic. Hannah,
best known for her mermaid role in the movie “Splash,” is a
longtime supporter of environmental causes. She has been forcibly
removed from more than one protest demonstration, and she runs a
site that covers a lot of environmental issues. I wonder what
her presence will add to the show.
It seems Sea Shepherd is getting wrapped up in show business as
continuing controversy and criticism — including Watson’s claim
of being shot against denials by the Japanese. Watson apparently
believes all the publicity will help stop the whaling, and now he’s
getting more attention than anytime in the last 30 years.
I don’t know where things will go from here, but I can’t help