Showing posts with label Whale Wars. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Whale Wars. Show all posts

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Whale Wars: Sea Shepherd using drones; whalers using security vessels

Japanese security boat
The "Whale Wars" are about to intensify. Again.

The Japanese whalers are enlisting two military-style security vessels to ensure they'll not be thwarted in their annual effort to kill hundreds of whales under the guise of research.

The Sea Shepherd Conservation Society, an anti-whaling group that for seven years has been tormenting and harassing the whalers in an attempt to prevent the senseless killing of whales, are now using drones to locate the whalers' mothership.

This could get interesting.

You've probably heard of "Whale Wars." Over the last seven years around this time, the Sea Shepherd has sent a fleet to the Southern Ocean in the Antarctic for the sole purpose of saving whales. For the last four years, its exploits have been videotaped and turned into a reality TV series called "Whale Wars," which debuted on Animal Planet on Nov. 7, 2008.

Last season, Sea Shepherd enlisted a sophisticated, high-speed boat called Godzilla to locate the factory ship, called the Nisshin Maru. But when Godzilla broke down, Sea Shepherd had a difficult time relocating the Nisshin Maru, which processes whales killed by crews aboard harpoon boats.

So now, Sea Shepherd has drones.

The Sea Shepherd crew has intercepted the Japanese whaling fleet on Christmas Day, a thousand miles north of the Southern Ocean Whale Sanctuary. 
Readying to launch a drone.
The Sea Shepherd ship, Steve Irwin, deployed a drone to successfully locate and photograph the Japanese factory ship Nisshin Maru on December 24th. Once the pursuit began, three Japanese harpoon/security ships moved in on the Steve Irwin to shield the Nisshin Maru to allow it to escape. 
This time however the Japanese tactic of tailing the Steve Irwin and the Bob Barker will not work because the drones, one on the Steve Irwin and the other on the Bob Barker, can track and follow the Nisshin Maru and can relay the positions back to the Sea Shepherd ships.
“We can cover hundreds of miles with these drones and they have proven to be valuable assets for this campaign,” said Captain Paul Watson on board the Steve Irwin.

The drone named Nicole Montecalvo was donated to the Steve Irwin by Bayshore Recycling of New Jersey.
The plot is definitely thickening since Captain Watson seemed to indicate that the Japanese whalers and their security vessels are coming armed this time.

From the West Australian:
Two Japanese security vessels with uniformed guards were tailing anti-whaling group Sea Shepherd's flagship, Steve Irwin, [Monday] night as it headed towards the Southern Ocean whale sanctuary.

The Steve Irwin is closing in on the whaling fleet's factory vessel Nisshin Maru as the groups head south for the start of this year's battle over Japan's plan to kill more than 900 whales. [...]
The anti-whaling group plans to block the factory ship's slipway to prevent any dead whales being dragged aboard and flensed.

Steve Irwin captain Paul Watson said [Monday] he was surprised by the military-style bunkers on the decks of the vessels and extent of the whaling fleet's security.
"There seem to be a lot of changes on the Shonan Maru 2 this year, with armed security personnel and they seem to have a bunker-type thing on the top of their ship with sandbags," Capt. Watson said.

"I don't know if they are expecting us to attack them with weapons or something. They seem awfully paranoid.

"We are just there to stop them killing whales but we are doing everything we can to make sure we don't hurt these people."

Capt. Watson said rancid butter bombs were the worst thing the conservationists would be using against the whalers this year.

Late [Monday], the Steve Irwin was about 50 nautical miles behind the factory ship while the two security vessels were sitting about seven nautical miles off the Steve Irwin's stern.

Sea Shepherd's other two ships, the high-speed Brigitte Bardot and the Bob Barker, were not being tailed by the Japanese.
Stay tuned for the next season of "Whale Wars." Could get nasty.

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Wednesday, April 6, 2011

A 50-foot great white shark photographed off Ireland? An underwater bike tunnel? Other Call of the Wild headlines

A 50-foot great white shark photographed off Ireland? Uh, no
One needn’t bother clicking on to find out the legitimacy of a record 50-foot great white shark one lucky diver managed to photograph off Ireland. It’s rather obvious. Posted on April 1. His wife’s name is April (shown in the photo with the shark). Photographer’s name is Jester, as in motley fool. Still, you gotta love this quote from April in this spoof: “I was scared for sure. If it had been hungry, I would have been a goner. And let’s face it, a shark doesn’t get to being that big without a healthy appetite.” Aside from a chuckle, what this photoshopped image gives us is what a 50-foot great white shark would look like if one did exist. Really, the photoshopping is beautifully done, no? Sport Diver

Vancouver considers underwater bike tunnel? Uh, no
The headline alone ought to give it away. But, yes, The Vancouver Courier -- a legitimate newspaper in Canada (at least we thought it was a legitimate newspaper in Canada) -- did run a story on April 1 about the city's plan to build the "Funnel" to connect downtown to southeast False Creek at a cost of $420 million. The Courier obtained the city's 52-page city report through the Freedom of Information legislation. An April Fools joke in an online diving magazine is one thing, but in a supposed real newspaper? No wonder newspapers are dying. Vancouver Courier

A 300-pound ray jumps into boat and lands on lady? Yes, true story
It happened aboard Two Chicks Charters while on a cruise off Islamorada, Florida. The 300-pound giant spotted eagle ray suddenly flew out of the water and landed on Jenny Hausch, who was pinned under the creature before crawling out from under it. This happened about the same time that a 375-pound mako shark jumped into a fishing boat off Texas. What's with these sea creatures lately, anyway? Luckily, Florida Wildlife Conservation officers witnessed the incident and assisted in returning the ray to the water. "This was not an attack," one officer told UPI. "These things are not looking to have a human meal." That's reassuring. UPI 

Ocean life can handle radioactive leaks? So say the experts
"Releases of radioactive water into the ocean near Japan's stricken nuclear complex shouldn't pose a widespread danger to sea animals or people who might eat them, experts say," the lede in the Kansas City Star article stated. And why is that? Because it's a very large ocean and because of dilution. Now, less than a mile or so from the nuclear plant is another story if this dumping continues for a long time, one expert said. Problems like genetic mutations (see above) can occur. Readings for radioactive iodine and cesium show a thousand-fold drop from the shore to monitors 19 miles offshore, the report states. Whew, that's a  relief. Pass the sushi. Kansas City Star

With possible end to Whale Wars, are Shark Wars next for Sea Shepherd? 
That's what it looks like. The Sea Shepherd Conservation Society, known for protecting whales against the Japanese whaling fleet in the Southern Ocean, will now focus on protecting sharks off Palau. Sea Shepherd signed an agreement with the Palau government to work with the Palauan Marine Law Enforcement Division to patrol the world's first shark sanctuary to prevent illegal fishing and shark-finning. Palau is an island 500 miles east of the Philippines and 2,000 miles south of Tokyo. You might recall, Paul Watson, founder of Sea Shepherd, recently stated that the Japanese earthquake and tsunami might have brought an end to Japanese whaling. So, will Animal Planet get a new series? Stay tuned. Radio Australia News

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Saturday, March 26, 2011

Whale Wars: Did Japan earthquake, tsunami bring an end to illegal whaling?

Paul Watson and his Sea Shepherd crew
Are the whale wars over? The man who made them popular seems to think so.

Captain Paul Watson of the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society -- and star of the popular reality TV show “Whale Wars” on Animal Planet -- believes Japan’s 9.0-magnitude earthquake and resulting tsunami brought about a big change in Japanese whaling.

“This recent disaster will most likely be the final end to Japanese whaling in the Southern Ocean, and make it a 100 percent certainty that they will not return,” he wrote a few days ago on the Sea Shepherd website. “The economic hit that Japan has just taken will make further subsidies [for whaling] very unpopular.”

Each winter, during Japan’s whaling season in the Southern Ocean Whale Sanctuary off the coast of Antarctica, vessels from Sea Shepherd wage a war against Japanese whalers, who kill hundreds of whales in the name of research.

Sea Shepherd contends it’s an illegal commercial whaling operation and does everything it can to disrupt the whaling fleet, including throwing stink bombs of butyric acid onto the Japanese vessels, along with ramming, boarding and disabling them.

In mid-February, the whaling fleet headed home early, thwarted by Sea Shepherd’s efforts in what was its seventh anti-whaling campaign. Watson estimates that the whaling fleet did not even take 10 percent of its quota, the Sea Shepherd saving more than 900 whales this season.

Even before the disaster in Japan, Watson said he was 75 percent certain the whaling fleet would not return to the Southern Ocean next winter because it knows Sea Shepherd can stop its efforts, it is deeply in debt to the Japanese government, and whaling is becoming more and more of an embarrassment to the government of Japan.

Watson continued:

Of course, there is another possibility that Japan may once again see whale meat as a cheap food for a nation in crisis just as the whaling fleet was organized in 1946 by American Army General Douglas MacArthur to provide cheap protein for post-war civilian populations. Such a move would be blatantly commercial and thus illegal. Japan may appeal to world sympathy for justification, but most likely, they won’t get it.

We will be watching the Japanese whaling fleet closely. If it looks like they intend to return, then Sea Shepherd will also return.
Knowing Watson, you can count on it.

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Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Whale Wars: Did the Japanese whaling fleet surrender?

The Nisshin Maru, the factory ship of the Japanese whaling fleet in the Southern Ocean, has made a U-turn and is apparently headed home.

Does this mean an end to the Whale Wars?

The Sea Shepherd Conservation Society, the anti-whaling group that has been harassing the fleet for seven years in an effort to prevent the killing of whales under the guise of research, said this about the interesting development Wednesday in the Whale Wars:
The turnabout could mean one of two things. First, they may be on a great circle route back to Japan, or second, they may be returning to the whaling grounds in the Ross Sea where the three Japanese harpoon vessels may be waiting to continue their illegal slaughter.
Reports from Japan that the Japanese Fisheries Agency has suspended the hunt have not specified how long this suspension will last. It could be permanent, for the season, for two weeks, or only a few days. The three Sea Shepherd ships Steve Irwin, Bob Barker, and Gojira will remain in the Southern Ocean until the whaling vessels depart.
“The Japanese Fisheries Agency had no choice but to suspend whaling operations. Sea Shepherd had already enforced a suspension of operations by blocking all whaling operations since February 9th and blocking 75% of all whaling operations for the month of January,” said Captain Paul Watson “We will not allow the Japanese whalers to kill another whale down here in the Southern Ocean Whale Sanctuary.”
For those who follow the exploits of Sea Shepherd by watching "Whale Wars," the popular weekly reality TV series on Animal Planet, this might be the biggest question:

Did Sea Shepherd collect enough video footage to last a full season of "Whale Wars"? The fourth season is scheduled to kick off in June.

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Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Sea Shepherd delights at what WikiLeaks uncovered

Sea Shepherd founder Paul Watson
It was a victory, not to mention proof that what it is doing is working.

That was pretty much the reaction of the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society when WikiLeaks revealed on Monday secret documents showing that Japan was pressuring the U.S. government to take action against the anti-whaling group by revoking its tax-exempt status.

Here's how the Sea Shepherd, home of Animal Planet's popular reality-TV show "Whale Wars," put it on its website:

Wikileaks Reveals Sea Shepherd is a Serious Concern
to Japan’s Illegal Whaling Operations

Wikileaks has revealed that the Japanese government views Sea Shepherd Conservation Society as a very serious threat to their illegal whaling activities. In a classified U.S. Department of State document released by Wikileaks to the El Pais newspaper in Spain, the Japanese Deputy General Director for the Japanese Fisheries Agency Mr. Yamashita, pointed out that “the harassment of the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society had kept the Japanese whaling fleet from reaching its quotas these last few years.”

There it is! For all the critics who have been saying the anti-whaling campaigns have not been effective, Sea Shepherd holds the same position as the Japanese Fisheries Agency that the campaigns have been very effective, so effective in fact that Sea Shepherd has been discussed in high-level talks by Japanese government representatives with the U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. 
Go to the Sea Shepherd website for founder Paul Watson's comments. It's enlightening, if a bit long.
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Monday, January 3, 2011

WikiLeaks: 'Whale Wars' and Sea Shepherd face new battle

Sea Shepherd on the attack from a Zodiak in a previous
season. Photos from
If you love whales or you're a conservationist or animal rights activist, you might not like what WikiLeaks just made public, exposing confidential talks between the U.S. and Japanese governments over "Whale Wars."

U.S. diplomatic cables from November 2009 reveal that the Japanese government was (and presumably still is) pressuring the U.S. to weaken the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society's efforts to harass the Japanese whaling fleet in exchange for a reduced whale quota.

The U.S. would weaken Sea Shepherd by revoking its tax-exempt status, and a cable reveals that the U.S. government told Japan that it believes it can succeed in doing so.

Yahoo!-associated GrindTV Outdoor was among the first media outlets to report the release of these details by WikiLeaks. GrindTV attempted to confirm with NOAA the validity of the documents and whether the U.S. is still considering taking action against Sea Shepherd, but a spokesman said the agency "does not comment on materials, including classified documents, which may have been leaked."

From a confidential cable labeled  09TOKYO2588 by WikiLeaks and made public Monday (though it's dated Jan. 1):  
Regarding the SSCS [Sea Shepherd], she [Monica Medina, the U.S. representative to the International Whaling Commission] said she believes the USG can demonstrate the group does not deserve tax exempt status based on their aggressive and harmful actions.
A Japanese whaling boat
In an earlier confidential cable labeled 09TOKYO2529, also released by WikiLeaks on Monday, Japan let the U.S. know that dealing with Sea Shepherd needs to be a priority in order for the IWC negotiations for whale-quota reductions to move forward:
[Shuji] Yamada [Japan's Vice-Minister for International Affairs] inquired about an investigation into the tax status of the U.S.-based NGO Sea Shepherd Conservation Society and repeated Japan's request for the U.S. to take action against the organization, which he said created a very dangerous situation on the seas. The DCM [an embassy diplomat] replied that the U.S. places the highest priority on the safety of vessels and human life at sea, and added that if any violations of U.S. law are discovered, we will take appropriate enforcement action. [Fisheries Agency Counselor Joji] Morishita went on to say it would be easier for Japan to make progress in the IWC negotiations if the U.S. were to take action against the Sea Shepherd.
The founder of Sea Shepherd is Paul Watson, whose efforts to prevent the whaling fleet from killing whales spurred the popular reality-TV series called "Whale Wars," which airs on Animal Planet. Watson seemed to shrug off the WikiLeaks report.

From the Associated Press: 
Paul Watson and his crew

Paul Watson [...] said Japan has previously pressured foreign governments to take action against the group, such as revoking the registration of its ships. He said the organization had last been audited about two years ago, which is before the exchanges detailed in the cables.

"We have had our tax status since 1981, and we have done nothing different since then to cause the IRS (Internal Revenue Service) to change that," he told The Associated Press by telephone from his ship.
Watson and his anti-whaling fleet are currently in the Southern Ocean trying to do everything they can to prevent the Japanese whaling fleet from killing whales under the guise of research. Sea Shepherd added a new boat called Godzilla to the fleet this season. Read more about that here.

The Sea Shepherd fleet interrupts hunts by tossing stink bombs onto the Japanese vessels and positioning boats between the whalers and the whales. The intense confrontations make for interesting TV, but more importantly, it helps save hundreds of minke whales from getting harpooned.

The fourth season of "Whale Wars" will begin airing in June. This season's motto: Operation No Compromise.

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Monday, December 27, 2010

Top 10 Outdoors Blog Posts of the Year

Sure, we got a late start to 2010 here at Outdoors 720. But that isn't going to stop us from giving you a chance to revist our most popular outdoors blog posts of the year in the Great Outdoors. No, sir. We wouldn't deprive you of the opportunity to have a look back.  

Funny, fascinating, frightful. They're all here. Right this way...

Top 10 Outdoors Blog Posts of the Year:

1. Skateboarding in Afghanistan: The Paradise Within -- What a refreshing story going on in war-torn Afghanistan. Skateboarding is having a tremendous impact on the children, giving them hope at a place called Skateistan. The 8-minute documentary itself is worth the click.

2. Surfer breaks erroneous Guinness surfing record, or did he? -- Hilarious. A surfer mistakenly believes the Guinness World Record for continuous surfing is 24 hours. So he surfs for 26 hours. Only, the record was only 15 hours, if it was a record at all.

3. Red Sea shark attacks: One victim thought it was a dolphin -- A true-life "Jaws" drama going on in Egypt that you gotta see to believe.

4. Boys lost at sea for 50 days; you'll never guess why -- No, you'll never guess why three teens became lost at sea for so long north of Samoa. Or maybe you will.

5. Kayaker terrified by shark -- This one comes with the "Jaws" theme and underwater video. Incredible.

6. Wildlife rescue: Saving deer cost pair $90 apiece -- Heroes or dumb? An interesting take about the two guys who rescued a deer from an icy river.

Whale Wars: Godzilla
7. Whale Wars: Godzilla joins fight against Japanese whalers -- The popular Animal Planet reality TV show, "Whale Wars," is at it again with a new boat called Godzilla.

8. You won't guess what the Pope just blessed -- Here's a hint: It's done in the outdoors and is quite popular every winter.

9. Skateboarding speed record comes from corn -- No kidding. Corn. And a rep from Guinness World Records was there to prove it!

10. Angler catches world-record yellowfin tuna -- This is one, big tuna. Fishing fanatics or not, this is a must see.

And in case you missed it, here are the Great Outdoors Awards for 2010.

Coming soon on Mondays at Outdoors 720: Fishing Presidents

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Wednesday, December 1, 2010

'Whale Wars': Godzilla joins the effort to save whales

Godzilla has terrorized Japanese moviegoers for decades. Now a new Godzilla is about to terrorize the Japanese whaling fleet.

Gojira, Godzilla in English and shown above in boat-form, is the newest addition to the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society’s anti-whaling fleet.

Today, it is set to join the Bob Barker and the Steve Irwin, the other two Sea Shepherd vessels, in Hobart, Australia. They will set sail for the Southern Ocean on Thursday, embarking on their annual campaign to prevent the killing of whales.

You're probably familiar with Sea Shepherd. The anti-whaling group has become famous because of “Whale Wars,” a weekly reality television series that debuted on Animal Planet on Nov. 7, 2008.

[Related: WikiLeaks drop a bombshell]

The show details the harassing encounters the Sea Shepherd fleet has with the Japanese whalers each year in the Southern Ocean, all in the name of saving whales.

Wrote GrindTV Outdoors about the newest Sea Shepherd vessel: “Gojira, which can easily out-run the larger Japanese vessels, will be used to help locate the factory ship, which processes whales killed by crews aboard harpoon boats; to try to thwart harpooning; and to prevent delivery of harpooned whales to the factory ship.”

Very sleek and intimidating; and note the Godzilla decal near the bow.

“I think we did bloody well this year, and 528 whales were saved,” Captain Paul Watson, founder of the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society said about last season on the “Whale Wars” site. “We won’t stop until whaling ends.”

The Sea Shepherd has been trying to stop the killing for six years, going on the offensive during the season which runs from December through February or March.

“I can guarantee we’re going to cut their quota in half, but we’re aiming for 100 percent this year,” Watson said via the Australian Associated Press.

“We’re prepared for their aggression, we’re stronger and better prepared and better equipped than ever... Every year we go down stronger and they go down weaker, so we’re slowly beating them down.

“I think we’re winning this. Most telling of all is that for the first time ever the Japanese fleet hasn’t left. They usually leave between the 9th and 19th of November.

“Whether they’re coming down at all, we don’t even know yet.”

According to what Greenpeace Japan officials told the Japan Times, the fleet is late in leaving because it hasn’t secured a refueling vessel for the trip.

No doubt it will, and the intense pressure will begin.

[Get rid of costly cable/satellite bills. Click Here Now!]

Even on land the pressure is intensifying on the whaling fleet to cut down on whaling. The Japan Times reports that the International Whaling Commission submitted a proposal in April for the fleet to reduce its quota from 800 to 200 over the next 10 years.

And in May, Australia launched legal action at the International Court of Justice in the Hague to stop Japan’s research whaling in the Antarctic.

As it is, the fleet’s annual take has continued to decline because of the Sea Shepherd's efforts, the methods and madness of which make great reality TV.

The fourth season of “Whale Wars” will begin airing in early June 2011. This season’s motto: Operation No Compromise.

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