First Officer, M/Y Steve Irwin
As the Steve Irwins bow points south the days grow longer. It is the Austral Summer, and soon it will be the longest day of the year in the Southern Hemisphere.
We encountered ice early on in the transit South from Fremantle. In fact, we were still in the Roaring Forties when the first blue-white berg appeared. Other large bergs have been reported very far North this year. What is left of the last ice age is rapidly melting into the Southern Ocean.
During our showdown with the Shonan Maru II, Captain Paul Watson carefully steered the bow of the Steve Irwin between growlers at the foot of a steep Iceberg as we played a game of Ring Around the Rosey with the kill ship. We were pursued by the Shonan Maru II until out of sight under the steep ice wall, when the Captain spun the helm hard over and we re-emerged from behind the ice curtain on a reciprocal heading.
The Shonan Maru was caught by surprise as black smoke bellowed from her exhaust stack as she fled to the North, heeling sharply.
Now it was the Steve Irwin who gave chase.
As I manned the pitch controls and alternated my gaze from the radar screen to the view beyond the bridge windows, I couldnt help but feel privileged to be part of a great team of people, from the supporters who helped prepare the ship and waved us off in Fremantle, to the engineers watching the temperature gauges down in the engine room.
We have a big job to do this year, the poachers have issued themselves special permits for 900 Minke and fin whales and 50 humpbacks, but thanks to all the support, here we are approaching the Antarctic Whale Sanctuary, more prepared and optimistic about the end of illegal whaling than ever before. Thank you again to everyone who has helped make the start of this years campaign a reality. Together we are steaming ahead to put an end to the illegal poaching of whales in this vast and desolate Sanctuary.