The Great Southern Ocean Chase - Day TwoCommentary by Captain Paul Watson
On Board the Sea Shepherd ship Steve Irwin
It's hard to kill whales when you're running with your tail between your legs and the Japanese whaling fleet is running, north then west, then east, then west, then east again trying to throw the Sea Shepherd ship Steve Irwin off their rear-ends.
But our electronic teeth are firmly embedded in their rear stern ends and they are not shaking us loose. When they turn, we turn, and where they flee to, we pursue. If they stop we will be on their backs like fleas on a dog.
The seas down here are constantly changing from calm to whitecaps, to heavy swells and the visibility goes from crystal clear to foggy from moment to moment. The sun shines and then without warning sleet and snow lash out at the ship and an hour later the sun is shining once again. The sky fades from blue to grey to white then to blue again.
The sea is full of icebergs and hazardous semi submerged rock hard growlers. The icebergs are dangerously beautiful unique ice sculptures ranging from alabaster white to cobalt blue and emerald green.
In the sea are whales and penguins and in the frigid air are majestic albatross and petrels. We are not alone out here. We've seen Humpbacks and Piked whales, Fin Whales and Blue Whales, Sperm Whales and Orcas.
And the birds! Every day we see so many species. Some of which are: Wandering Albatross, Royal Albatross, Black Browed Albatross, White capped Albatross, Yellow Nosed Albatross, Grey-Headed Albatross, Sooty Albatross, Southern Giant Petrel, Northern Giant Petrel, Antarctic Fulmar, Cape Petrel, Antarctic Petrel, Snow Petrel, Kerguelen Petrel, Blue Petrel, Gray Petrel, Wilson's Storm Petrel, Black Bellied Storm Petrel.
This is a magnificent place marred only by these cruelly destructive whalers and the greedy rapacious Patagonian and Antarctic Toothfish poachers.
My crew and I are happily chasing these vicious killers and each day we stay on their sterns is a day they cannot kill a whale.
Behind us is the large and fast Japanese stern trawler Fukuyoshi Maru No. 68 staying a steady 6.2 miles to our stern reporting our every move to the Japanese fleet. What this means is that it is difficult for us to close in on the fleet but we are tracking them and they know if they stop to whale we will catch up with them so they can only continue to run.
Onboard the Fukuyoshi Maru No. 68 is a detachment of armed Japanese Coast Guard. The Melbourne Age confirmed through Japanese Coast Guard spokesperson Takashi Matsumori, in Tokyo that this military unit is in the Southern Ocean to "to protect human lives and assets".
It is of course interesting that Japan insisted that the Australian Customs ship Oceanic Viking had to remove its deck guns and they did, yet armed Japanese Coast Guard officers are in the Australian Antarctic Territorial waters acting like they own the place.
The evening of February 24th ended with the Steve Irwin plowing into heavy seas, engine full out in hot pursuit of a fleeing Japanese whaling fleet.
Another day passing without a whale being killed. It was a happy day for the crew and earlier in the day we passed a large Fin Whale that breached alongside the ship, we knew that the big guy could have been killed today if not for us being here and that alone makes our voyage down here worth all the sacrifice, the cost and the effort.
Yesterday on January 23 at 0600 Hours, the Steve Irwin located the Japanese fleet at 63 Degrees 30 Minutes South and 97 Degrees and 7 Minutes East deep inside the Australian Whale Sanctuary.
At midnight on February 24th, the Japanese fleet was outside the Australian Whale Sanctuary at 61 Degrees 31 Minutes South and 106 Degrees 30 Minutes East.
Since the chase began, the Japanese fleet has fled 340 miles from where they were first located although the zig-zagging course they have taken over the last two days covered at least twice that distance. They are burning a great amount of fuel and achieving nothing and that cuts into their profit margin and that is the only language they understand.
Tomorrow will be Day Three and the chase will continue.