Sunday, February 21, 2010

Photographing Life on the Barker

Glenn Lockitch
Ship’s Photographer, Bob Barker

The nearly sixty-year-old Bob Barker, the latest addition to the Sea

Shepherd fleet, is an ex-whaling ship that is not short of character and is a smorgasbord to the visual sense especially for a photographer.

I joined the ship on the 2nd of December in Mauritius, having flown in from

Sydney, and arrived at Port Louis not knowing what to expect. My taxi driver from the airport, a regular driver for the Sea Shepherd crew and chatty on subjects from politics to romance, dropped me in front of a ship that had a black-painted hull and cream and deep red paint peeling from the rest of its body. What a sight! This boat was oozing character and I was going to be photographing on board for the next three months.

After being introduced to many new faces I was shown around the ship through a rabbit warren of cabins and corridors that mysteriously seemed to end up where you started. I was then shown to my cabin and dumped all my gear. I immediately grabbed my camera and went exploring.

And there has been much to photograph in the 66 days we’ve been on board ... from the repairing of the ship and loading of supplies in Mauritius; then our daily lives during our journey down to the Southern Ocean; the stunning ever-changing nature around us from albatrosses following our ship for days on end to a slow and careful meander through icebergs and growlers, interspersed with the odd pod of whales and penguins casually hanging out on an iceberg as we pass; and more recently for the last month-and-a-half, the spontaneity of actions against the Japanese whalers.

As I type, we are into our 16th day on the tail of the factory ship, which is not only a record for trailing them but also greater than all of the days combined in all previous campaigns. As each day passes by, another ten more whales are saved!

Each day, if I haven’t already been woken out of my erratic sleep to photograph a commemorative hosing down of the Nisshin Maru, the first thing I do after stumbling towards the coffee percolator is check the light outside… the most vital ingredient for photography …