Hunting the Hunters Through Ice and Storms
Report from Captain Paul Watson
It is difficult to describe the sea, weather conditions, and the obstacles we face each day while in our pursuit of the Japanese whaling fleet. The vastness of this Southern Ocean is awesome. The unpredictability of the weather is a constant surprise, and the ice, well, the ice is even more unpredictable than the weather.
This morning we found ourselves surrounded by large floes where the ice charts say there are no floes to be found. Miles away, the Bob Barker was also encumbered by the barrier of ice. And once again, the Nisshin Maru is on the loose. Not whaling, but out of our sight, and once again we renew our efforts to hunt it down. Fortunately the Gojira will be back in place within a few days, and it will be free to search for the whalers as a scout ship without a tail.
The Steve Irwin must return to land for fuel. We have delayed longer than we should have, and being jammed into ice is no comfort with fuel reserves running low. We still have the Yushin Maru No. 2 on our stern.
The Bob Barker also has a tail, which keeps us from approaching the Nisshin Maru because these tails simply relay our coordinates ahead allowing the factory ship to stay out of our way.
The Nancy Burnet helicopter gives us an advantage, but only when it can fly. Weather conditions prevent us from flying for over 50 percent of the time. All and all, it is a formidable challenge, but so far this season has been an incredible success.
After a month in pursuit of the whaling fleet, we have kept the factory ship on the run for over 4,000 miles. Most importantly we have kept two of three harpoon vessels out of whaling operations for 30 days. The third whaling vessel has been kept out of whaling operations for at least 50 percent of these 30 days while running, and working without its assigned spotting vessels, going back and forth to relieve each other, wasting hundreds of miles every time.
We estimate we have cut operations for this month by 75 percent, and possibly more. We have two more months to go.
With the Gojira back in action, the scouting for the Nisshin Maru will continue and once re-located, the Bob Barker will move to approach it. Meanwhile, the Steve Irwin will refuel and return with fresh supplies for all three vessels, and by mid February, all three Sea Shepherd ships will be on the chase until the end of the whaling season.
If we had just one more ship down here, the third harpoon vessel could be kept entirely out of action. But we have to deal with the situation and the resources we do have, and we are doing that to the best of our ability.
To escape from us, the Nisshin Maru made some desperate and dangerous movements through thick ice. We could not follow it without sustaining serious damage to our ship, and so we continue to run after them, biting at their heels, moving them along, knowing they are looking over their shoulders constantly to see if a black ship is bearing down on them.
The hunters have become the hunted, and our hunt for these whale killers will continue until the poachers point their bows north to Japan and return with their meager, gory, and unprofitable cargo.