Friday, January 8, 2010

News from the Sea Shepherd

posted by Jo-Anne McArthur aboard the SS Bob Barker..

January 7th, 2010
Update from the Antarctic

click to enlarge
I've had to keep everything confidential until now because I've been on Sea Shepherd's secret vessel, the M/Y Bob Barker, which is a 50-yr old Norwegian whaling ship of all things. It was purchased in Africa and refitted by SS volunteers, which was our port for over a month while the boat was fixed up and brought back to life. Yep, Bob Barker bought Sea Shepherd a ship!

Donated all the money ($5,000,000) for the ship and fix-up as well, and all of associated expenses. Amazing. He is AMAZING.

The regular SS ship, the Steve Irwin, departed from Australia as usual for the Antarctic campaign to stop the Japanese whaling fleet. After years of being harassed by SS, they decided to ramp up their security etc. The Irwin left Australia w/ a tail, one of the Japanese ships. The fleet also added two "security" ships to their fleet, whose goal is to shut us down, basically, and keep an eye on us so that the Irwin's coordinates could be sent back to the factory ship, the Nisshin Maru, and they could continue to evade the Irwin.

SS added the Ady Gil to their campaign this year (the "Earthrace", a small sexy boat, named after Ady Gil who donated it to SS) and made a big media stink about it.

The Bob Barker left Mauritius on December 17th, still undetected and a surprise for the Japanese whalers.

Finally in Antarctic territory, the Irwin got a call from, of all things, a cruise ship, which had sighted the fleet. The expedition leader is apparently a fan of SS and knew the Irwin and the Ady Gil were searching for the whaling fleet. The coordinates of the Nisshin Maru were then sent to us, and of we went to find 'em.

Find 'em we did, and we've been in a bit of a battle ever since. Our cover was finally exposed so we're only now able to write about it, and it's all over the media: SS' third vessel!

The Nisshin caught on quickly that we were an SS ship, and sent their harpoon and security ships to tail us. By this morning (2am), we were surrounded by 4 harpoon ships that would take turns maneuvering closely around us and forcing us to reduce speed while the Nisshin Maru moved away. They sped towards bad weather, which slowed us considerably. We deployed one of our small boats and roughed it in horrible weather before turning back to the Barker. All this before 9am!

Things were looking hairy, but the Ady Gil appeared and buzzed around the Nisshin like an annoying bug, delaying their progress north and throwing stinky and organic cocktails which would possibly taint the meat on board, or coming on board. This was all w/in sight and we were thrilled to have company on our mission, finally! After a few hrs the Ady Gil came by our boat to say goodbye. The 6 crewmembers were all on deck, waving, and we all hooted and cheered at each other. Within moments, a harpoon ship changed course and went straight for the Ady Gil, turning on their water cannons, LRADs (long rang acoustic devices) and charging the boat before they could move out of the way. Incredibly, they actually rammed the Ady Gil, which ripped off the entire bow of the boat.

We called immediate Mayday. The Ady Gil continued to float, and we were able to deploy our small boats and go to their rescue. Had they been rammed a few meters towards the center of the boat, the 6 crewmembers would have perished (from being crushed, or from hypothermia).

The day has been a long one of rescues, media, and a billion things. We've been picking up the scraps of the Ady Gil all day, and we're now towing its remnants while we decide next steps.

We are hoping that the ship that rammed us will be brought up charges for attempted murder. All remains to be seen.

"Sea Shepherd" is one of the top 30 Google searches around the world right now. We're doing tons of interviews.

Perhaps the Ady Gil was our sacrificial lamb, and this will bring huge exposure to the whaling issue, and to the whaler’s behavior. Perhaps this will help finally end illegal whaling in the Antarctic.

Today.... It’s really incredible that no one was killed.

We have the 6 crewmembers on board the Bob Barker now, who'll remain with us for the duration of our campaign as we continue to follow the Nisshin Maru. We target that ship specifically because that's where they process the whales. If we disable or at least block that ship, we stop the whaling.

I shot the entire day in detail, including the ramming of the Ady Gil. SS is in the process of sending these pics worldwide. I'll post some soon as well. Keep watch at open link and in this week's news.

More soon.

For the animals,

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