Sea Shepherd News
On April 16th, 2012, the Sea Shepherd scout vessel Brigitte Bardot was relaunched in Fremantle after 3 months of repairs needed from damage suffered by a rogue wave in the Southern Ocean. Ship’s manager Simon Ager was euphoric, stating “the last three and a half months of repairs by professionals and passionate volunteers alike have brought us to today, the Brigitte Bardot lowered graciously back into the water, fully repaired and stronger than she ever was, and ready to continue on the fight, both of us perhaps looking a little more worse for wear during this episode but with a renewed resolve.”
It Takes One Voice to Make a Difference: Cove Guardian Melissa Seghal leads the way in Amazon whale meat petition
Commentary by current Cove Guardian leader Melissa Seghal
I have been in Taiji, Japan for a few months now and I have witnessed hundreds of dolphins slaughtered for consumption and taken captive for human entertainment. It is barbaric and beyond words to describe the atrocities that happen during the dolphin drive season.
I have been involved with animal activism for over ten years, but nothing has prepared me for what I have experienced here in Taiji. My passion for animals has motivated me to travel to this dark little town and become a Cove Guardian. I chose to be here at the front lines to document and expose the truth, and to educate the many who can’t even fathom the idea of hurting an innocent creature.
When I heard that Amazon.com was selling whale meat, I was horrified that the largest online retailer would support such bloodshed. I decided to create an online petition with Change.org to gather signatures through social media. Over one week, we were able to gather over 200,000 signatures worldwide. Speaking from personal experience of witnessing dolphins murdered for their flesh, it gave others the ability to join the fight against this horrific practice. Through pressure, demand, and media exposure, Amazon.com now states that the sale of dolphin, porpoise, shark, and whale meat is prohibited from their site and that any part of marine mammals are not to be sold.
Captain Paul Watson received a satellite phone call from Captain Peter Hammarstedt onboard the Bob Barker at 2200 Hours (AEST) on March 5th. “Eureka! Paul, we have the Nisshin Maru in our sights,” said Captain Hammarstedt
The Nisshin Maru and her three deadly harpoon boats were found at 64 Degrees 59 Minutes South and 130 Degrees 51 Minutes East at Commonwealth Bay, sixty miles off the Antarctic Coast, inside the Australian Economic Exclusion Zone.
The Yushin Maru No. 3 had just arrived from tailing the Steve Irwin. Despite the three harpoon vessels deployed to intercept the Bob Barker, Captain Hammarstedt slipped through their web and gained a visual identification on the primary target. Two of the harpoon vessels were in pursuit of whales. All whaling activity stopped as the Nisshin Maru began running, but the Bob Barker is faster and is gaining steadily on the hated factory ship.
“We have her in our sights and she will not be able to outrun us,” said Bob Barker third mate, Vincent Burke of Melbourne. “We have kept them running for two months and that has disrupted their operations considerably, but now with the Bob Barker on their stern slipway whaling is effectively shut down for 2012,” said Captain Hammarstedt (27) from Sweden.
The Japanese security ship, Shonan Maru No. 2, is still tailing the Steve Irwin, presently one day from the Bass Strait, and is now 1600 nautical miles away from the whaling fleet. The Steve Irwin successfully led the Shonan Maru No. 2 and the Yushin Maru No. 3 away from the Bob Barker, to allow the Bob Barker to lose a tailing vessel. The key to finding the Nisshin Maru was losing the tailing ship-and it worked.
“This has been a long and tough campaign, with the worst weather and ice conditions that we have experienced in the entire eight seasons we have ventured into the Southern Ocean Whale Sanctuary,” said Captain Paul Watson. “Despite the temporary loss of our scout ship, the Brigitte Bardot, and our constant dogged pursuit of the Nisshin Maru, we have kept them on the run, taken two of their three harpoon vessels off the hunt for two months, severely crippled their killing capabilities, and now once again we have shut them down 100%. Operation Divine Wind has been enormously successful.”
The Bob Barker spots the whaling fleet's factory ship
The Nisshin Maru Photo: Carolina A. Castro
For three stressful days, the Sea Shepherd ship, Steve Irwin, has been leading the Japanese harpoon vessel, Yushin Maru No. 3, deeper into the pack ice of the northeast part of the Ross Sea.
“In order to close in on the Nisshin Maru, we must lose the tail of the Yushin Maru No. 3,” said Captain Paul Watson. “It is difficult because the Japanese hunting and killing ships are faster and more maneuverable than we are. So far we have had two skirmishes with the whalers in the last two days. Giacomo Giorgi (30) of Italy was injured slightly when he was struck in the hip with a long pole by one of the whalers.”
The crew on the three Sea Shepherd inflatable boats hit the Yushin Maru No. 3 with rotten butter and red paint. They also managed to temporarily obstruct the harpoon vessel. Unfortunately, the small boats could not slow down the harpoon vessel enough for the Steve Irwin to get away. The Yushin Maru No. 3 has been smashing through ice floes in an effort to keep on the tail of the Steve Irwin but does not seem to have suffered any damage. A couple of seasons ago, the same Yushin Maru No. 3 sustained damage in the ice and had to head to Indonesia for repairs to their propeller.
“We have been seriously handicapped by not having our scout vessel, the Brigitte Bardot,” said Captain Watson. “When we return next season we will do so with two scout vessels plus the two larger ships. Last year we were able to find them, close in on them and block them, forcing them to return to Japan. This year we can find them but we can’t close in enough to block them without a scout ship. Due to the generous donations from people all over the world who donated money to help the victims of the tsunami and earthquake of last March, the money was made available to send the Cetacean Death Star back to the Southern Ocean. I guess we can label this season’s campaign as “'The Empire Strikes Back.'”
The Steve Irwin makes its way through pack ice
with the Yushin Maru No. 3 tailing behind
photo: Billy Danger / Sea Shepherd
The Yushin Maru No. 3 breaks its way through
pack ice to keep up with the Steve Irwin
photo: Billy Danger / Sea Shepherd