Today we turned two harpoon vessels away from two Fin whales and as we watched these majestic creatures swim safely alongside us, I felt truly happy and at peace with why we are here at the bottom of the world battling the Japanese whaling fleet.
There is no disputing the fact that we fight for life and our enemies the whalers fight for death. There are two sides to this conflict. The right side and the wrong side, the good side and the evil side.
These whalers with their exploding harpoons, flensing knives, electric lances and fast efficient killer vessels represent evil.
To plunge a grenade tipped blunt harpoon head into the fleeing back of a whale, to hear it’s pitiful scream as the hot shrapnel shreds internal organs, to smell and see the spewing blood staining the seas scarlet, to watch a magnificent intelligent, sensitive, socially complex being like a great whale horrifically mutilated, tortured, and then slowly killed is to witness unadulterated evil.
This ship that we chase, the Nisshin Maru is a floating cesspool of evil. Tens of thousands of gentle whales have been hauled tail first up it’s anus like slipway onto its deck to be torn apart by savage men with long knives and rendered into commercial products under the guise of research.
The type of research the Japanese whalers are engaged in is the same kind of Dr. Mengle pseudo-science that gives real science a bad name. If there is any research involved in this charade at all it is product development and marketing research. Since they began this ridiculous false research program in 1986, the same year coincidently that the global moratorium on whaling was declared, the so called Institute for Cetacean Research has failed to publish a single peer review scientific paper.
These ruthless whale killers are frauds, liars and opportunists who are ripping off the Japanese public for hundreds of millions of dollars to subsidize an industry that portrays Japan as a monstrous and heartless destroyer of magnificent, endangered whales and dolphins.
And they are getting away with it because of slimy Yakuza gangster connections, political corruption, misguided nationalism and the timidity and complacency of other nations that see no economic incentive to intervene.
As I write this, the floating abattoir named the Nishin Maru is only a few hundreds meters in front of my ship the Steve Irwin. I can see her stern through my porthole. She is rising and falling on a heavy swell in a sea of drift ice. The sight feels my heart with dread at the knowledge of just how many tons of hot blood have flowed across her stinking gore smeared decks to be drained through rusty scuppers as steaming scarlet waste into the frigid waters of the Southern Ocean.
When I see that ship I am usually disgusted, revolted and nauseated by what it does and what it represents.
But today when I look at the Nisshin Maru my heart is filled with joy because this vicious pitiless vessel that I call the Cetacean Death Star is fleeing from us once again.
The huge 8,000 ton behemoth with her crew of cowards is running from the Steve Irwin, a vessel only one eight her size. And running along with her are the deadly killer boats Yushin Maru #1 and Yushin Maru #3.
Over the last two days, we have chased this fleet of killers for over 600 miles and during those two days they have not killed a single whale.
And what a spectacular chase it has been! Right across the top of the Ross Sea, through heaving swells and dense ice packs, dangerous ice growlers in freezing temperatures and ever changing weather conditions ranging from blue skies and glaring sun to dense fog, high winds, and blizzard conditions.
Three whaling ships, the black and cream coloured factory ship and two grey harpooners running full speed before one black ship with two inflatable boats and our helicopter overhead.
This flotilla of hunters, now the hunted, racing by magnificent icebergs, through heaving pack ice and into thick fog, bound for no one knows where. The whalers run and we follow and we keep them running and thus we keep them from killing.
These whalers know from our reputation that should they stop to kill a whale, we will throw ourselves upon their deadly designs with both passion and aggression. I made a vow to myself many years ago after watching the spark of life fade away in a whale’s eye that I would never again witness the death of a whale.
And since that day in 1976, I have not seen a whale die and I’ve sent eight whaling ships to the bottom to keep that vow.
The Japanese whalers who we have battled down in these waters for the last four years know very well that we will physically and passionately stop any attempt to kill a whale, no matter what the risks or the consequences. And so they run and they will keep running and as long as they are running they won’t kill whales.
Last year we kept them running and they took only half their quota and did not realize any profits, only debts. And the year before that it was the same. We intend to make this season another year of profit losses for these criminals.
And criminals they are. They are killing endangered species in an established international whale sanctuary in violation of a global moratorium on commercial whaling. They are no different than elephant poachers.
We did battle with these criminals today. They attacked us with concussion grenades and water cannons. They threw brass bolts, and chunks of lead at our boat crew and they threatened us with Long Range Acoustic Devices. Each of the whaling vessels have installed these units. They are military class weapons designed to blast with sound at a range meant to cause serious disorientation, confusion, vomiting, and permanent or temporary deafness.
We saw the device on the port side of the Nishin Maru and directed all our attacks to the starboard side. At one point they aimed the LRAD at our helicopter in a threatening manner but did not turn it on. Even they must have realized that knocking our helicopter out of the sky would be very bad for public relations.
The skirmishes between the ships zig-zagged across the sea through heaving swells and through deadly minefields of growlers and pack ice. The Steve Irwin would follow in the wake of the Nishin Maru as it crashed through the floes. At one point one of the harpoon boats slammed into a large chunk of ice. Our inflatable boats had to struggle at times to work their way through the ice and at one point one of the boat crews fell seven miles behind. It did so to head off a harpooner that was making a run on a whale.
The boat crew cut off the attack and were immediately pelted with pieces of lead and brass. One brass bolt struck Laurens De Groot of the Netherlands in the face and he escaped serious injury thanks to the face shield on his helmet.
The other boat crew were hit by one of the Nishin Maru‘s powerful water cannons. One cameraman was knocked off his feet when a blast of water struck him in the face. He suffered minor cuts and bruises.
The harpoon vessels moved in on the Steve Irwin in attempts to intimidate us with dangerously close passes. Hell, we invented intimidating ship movements so we simply held our position, forcing them to swerve away at the last moment.
A lone penguin stood on an ice pan staring in what appeared to be total astonishment as these strange floating machines tore through the midst of his ice field, water cannons roaring, concussion grenades exploding, metal grinding against ice, diesel smoke spewing from stacks, helicopter buzzing overhead.
The Sea Shepherd small boat teams handled their crafts brilliantly, buzzing like annoying wasps around the large whaling vessels, pushing their way through thick floe ice and ducking underneath the powerful water cannons.
The Animal Planet team onboard lost four cameras in the battle but captured the intensity of the confrontations perfectly. Visually the chase was spectacular and the battle of the dueling ships was exceptionally dramatic.
And when two fin whales spouted and broke the surface right alongside the Steve Irwin, the crew cheered wildly. The whales swam between us and the harpoon vessel Yushin Maru #1. And there it was, that horrific weapon of cetacean destruction, in the same frame as two Fin whales, rendered impotent and the whalers were powerless to do anything about it.
We have had this fleet on the run for 36 Hours now and we will keep them on the run for as long as our fuel resources hold out. With this our second intervention against the whaling fleet this season, I can guarantee they will not get their kill quota and that once again they will lose money and losing money is the only language they understand.
The key to ending illegal whaling in the Southern Ocean is to keep them losing money. We need to remove the economic motivation for whaling. And we are doing just that.
I’ve got a great crew of ecowarriors onboard this fine ship, one of the best crews that I have ever had. No whiners, no complainers, no cowards, just hard core dedicated activists willing to take whatever risks are required to protect these whales from their killers. They’ve come from all over the world, from Sweden, the Netherlands, Germany, Spain, South Africa, Canada, the USA, the U.K., Bermuda, Australia, New Zealand and yes, even Japan.
Men and women of both passion and courage who have all demonstrated that whatever the risk, whatever the task, they are down here to save lives and saving lives is doing the work of the angels.
Shepherds of the ocean we are and right now in this place we are where we need to be, doing what we must do.
As Walt Whitman once wrote;
“Sail forth - steer for the deep waters only,
Reckless O soul, exploring, I with thee and thou with me
For we are bound where mariner has not yet dared to go,
And we will risk the ship, ourselves and all.”
Captain Paul Watson
Master - The Steve Irwin
Founder and President of the
Sea Shepherd Conservation Society.
Captain Paul Watson
Moanahepara kit e tai
He toa takitini taku toa, chara I te toa takitahi
IT feels good to fight on the side of the angels and I am feeling very good indeed after a day of battling whaling ships in the deadly pack ice of the Ross Sea.