June 24th, 2009 - Funchal, Madeira, Portugal - The Sea Shepherd Conservation Society today officially announced Operation Waltzing Matilda - the 6th Sea Shepherd campaign to defend the whales of the Southern Ocean Whale Sanctuary from Japanese poachers.
About 30 members of the media attended the press conference despite the hotel manager insisting that the meeting had to be low profile and held in the back of the lobby hidden by the bar.
"This is a research project," said Captain Paul Watson. "We've decided to demonstrate our solidarity with the Japanese, Australian, and New Zealand Research projects. Our primary objective is to research non-lethal means for defending whales. Of course this may include research into Japanese ship's hull plate thickness, vessel stress tests, and paint chip analysis, as well as observation of whaler behavior in response to olfactory stimulation."
To illustrate the research theme of the Sea Shepherd campaign, Sea Shepherd Netherlands Director Laurens de Groot and Sea Shepherd UK Director Steve Roest donned inflatable boats marked "research" and armed themselves with Styrofoam harpoons to chase IWC delegates. In their attempt to get delegate "tissue samples" for research purposes, they had difficulty finding elusive Japanese whalers. However, Australian Environment Minister Peter Garrett innocently stumbled into the path of the harpoons and because Australia is apparently voting to support the slaughter of Humpbacks in Greenland, he was considered a legitimate target.
The Sea Shepherd Conservation Society will be returning to the Southern Ocean in December for the 6th Antarctic Whale Defense Campaign. This year Sea Shepherd will be sending two ships to the Southern Ocean, the upgraded and fully repaired Steve Irwin and potentially the fast interceptor vessel Earthrace.
On board will be an Animal Planet film crew to document the 3rd season of Whale Wars.
"Letting the world see what happens to the whales in the Southern Ocean is the most powerful anti-whaling weapon at our disposal," said Laurens de Groot, a Sea Shepherd Netherlands Director. "The cameras are more powerful than cannons and our ammunition is the naked truth about illegal whaling. We intend to keep the focus on Japanese crimes and we intend to sink the Japanese whaling fleet - economically."
An international crew of volunteers will crew the ships to the Southern Ocean but this year's campaign will have an Australian face. For this reason the name Operation Waltzing Matilda has been chosen. This is the unofficial national anthem of Australia. Translated from Aussie it means "hiking with a bedroll or pack."
"Australians are the most passionate whale defenders on the planet," said Captain Watson. "Operation Waltzing Matilda will reflect our gratitude to Australia for the incredible support we have received from the people of this wonderful nation since 2005. The Steve Irwin will depart in December from Western Australia with the majority of the crew being Australians."
Kylie Herd, a Sea Shepherd crewmember from Perth attending the IWC Conference in Madeira said, "Our logo this year is modeled on the art that adorned the fighter planes of the legendary Flying Tigers who fought the Japanese Imperial forces in China. The colors of the Aboriginal and Australian flags have been incorporated into the design with the pirate kangaroo holding Neptune's trident of justice. We intend to waltz down to the Southern Ocean to dance dangerously with the Japanese whaling fleet and we intend to unroll a Matilda full of defensive tactics for the whales against the Japanese whale poachers."
Whale Defense Campaign: Operation Waltzing Matilda is scheduled to depart for the Southern Ocean on December 1st, 2009.
As usual, Sea Shepherd has some new surprises for the Japanese pirate whalers this year and the whalers will surely have some surprises for Sea Shepherd. The confrontations are escalating as the whalers lose more and more money each year. The Sea Shepherd crew intends to persist and will never retreat from the Southern Ocean Whale Sanctuary until the last harpoon has been silenced and the word "sanctuary" is understood once and for all. There is no retreat for Sea Shepherd from the whale wars, there is only victory or defeat for the whales, and we do not intend see the whales defeated, nor do we intend to let these blubber chewing murdering barbarian butchers win.
all photos credit Deborah Bassett
Captain Watson with UK Director Steve Roest and
Netherlands Director Laurens De Groot
at the press conference conducting "research"
Captain Watson unveils the new whale defense campaign logo
with supporter Dave Rastovich, of Surfers for Cetaceans
Laurens De Groot conducts "research" on
Australian Environment Minister Peter Garrett