Fremantle, Australia - After months of preparation and hard work by the dedicated volunteer crew of the Steve Irwin, Sea Shepherd has officially launched its 6th Whale Defense Campaign, Operation Waltzing Matilda.
The ship departed from C-Dock, Victoria Quay in Fremantle at 10 AM on Monday morning, December 7th. A large crowd of Sea Shepherd supporters and local press were there to wave good by to the valiant crew as they embarked on an incredible journey that will take them thousands of miles south to one of the most remote and isolated oceans in the world.
A surprise visit by Terri, Bindi and Bob Irwin bolstered the crew's spirits as they set sail to defend the great whales in the Southern Ocean Whale Sanctuary from illegal poaching operations.
Sea Shepherd intends to stop the whale killers and put an end to illegal whaling operations in Antarctica. The intention is to sink the Japanese whaling fleet economically, by cutting into their profits. Sea Shepherd has successfully saved the lives of hundreds of whales from the harpoons and hopes this will be their last campaign to Antarctica by ending illegal whaling once and for all.
Says Captain Paul Watson, "We are very close to bankrupting the fleet and I am confident that we will hurt their profits significantly this year and shut down the fleet. Thank you to all for the support we have received from around the world, particularly Australia, to make this all possible."
Sea Shepherd's other defense vessel, the Ady Gil, will depart on Tuesday, December 8th from Hobart, Tasmania.
photos: Barbara Veiga / Sea Shepherd