In December 2002, the Sea Shepherd set out to hunt down the Japanese whaling fleet in Antarctic waters. Our objective was to enforce the global moratorium against commercial whaling and to enforce the protection regulations granted to the whales inside the official Southern Ocean Sanctuary (AKA the Antarctic Whale Sanctuary).
December: The Farley Mowat departs from Auckland, stops in Hobart and proceeds on to Antarctica to search for the Japanese whaling fleet.
Japan was able to change plans and avoid Sea Shepherd, and we learned a valuable lesson. Without aerial surveillance, the chances of success in tracking the Japanese fleet is small.
In December of 2005, Sea Shepherd launched our 2nd expedition to the vast and frigid waters of the Antarctic to oppose illegal Japanese whaling. Our flagship Farley Mowat departed from Melbourne, Victoria, Australia, and stops in Hobart, Tasmania, to pick-up a helicopter to be used for aerial reconnaissance. The whaling fleet is located on December 22nd and flees from Sea Shepherd's chase. On December 25th, the Farley Mowat intercepts the course line of the Japanese factory ship Nisshin Maru and attempts to foul her propellers. The Nisshin Maru begins to run and once again the Farley Mowat pursues.
The expedition continued into January of 2006 with the Farley Mowat chasing the Nisshin Maru for three thousand miles along the Antarctic coast. On January 8th, the Farley Mowat once again approaches the Nisshin Maru and deploys prop foulers. The Nisshin Maru stops whaling activities and flees. On January 9th, the Farley Mowat intercepts and side-swipes the whaling fleet supply vessel Oriental Bluebird. The supply ship is ordered out of the Antarctic Whale Sanctuary and complies. The Oriental Bluebird does not return.
The Farley Mowat completed a 50-day voyage covering 8500 miles between Melbourne and their final destination of Cape Town, South Africa. The Japanese fleet was disrupted for 15 days and prevented from achieving their quota.
Our 2006-2007 Antarctic whale defense campaign was named Operation Leviathan was the third Sea Shepherd expedition to the Southern Oceans to intervene against illegal whaling operations by the Japanese fleet in the Antarctic Whale Sanctuary. The ambitious campaign involved the utilization of two ships, (the Farley Mowat and the newly-purchased Robert Hunter), a Hughes 300 helicopter (the Kookabura), and 56 crewmembers from 14 different nations.
October: Sea Shepherd purchases the Scottish Fisheries Patrol vessel Westra in Rosyth, Scotland. The vessel is renamed Robert Hunter in honor of the man who was a journalist, co-founder of Greenpeace, friend of Captain Watson, and Sea Shepherd Advisory Board member.
December: The Robert Hunter departs from Scotland and voyages down the middle of the North and South Atlantic. The Farley Mowat departs from Melbourne, Australia to Hobart, Tasmania.
The Japanese whaling fleet had plans to illegally kill 935 piked (Minke) whales and 50 fin whales. During Operation Leviathan, we were at sea for five weeks and chased the whaling fleet over thousands of square miles constantly interrupting their whaling activities. We intercepted and engaged the fleet on February 9th and 12th, 2007, and their whaling operations were disrupted saving several pods of whales.
January - March: The Sea Shepherd ship Steve Irwin voyages twice to the coast of Antarctica to disrupt illegal Japanese whaling activities in the Southern Ocean Whale. Two Sea Shepherd crew board a Japanese harpoon boat and are detained for three days and then released. Japanese Coast Guard throws concussion grenades and fires on Sea Shepherd crew. The end result is over 500 whales saved and losses of profits for the Japanese fleet.
We were joined on this campaign by a film crew from Animal Planet who chronicled our journey for the new TV series Whale Wars.
|Japanese Coast Guard throwing concussion grenades|
December 2008 – February 2009: The2008-2009 Antarctic Whale Defense Campaign,Operation Musashi, so named in reference to the legendary samurai Ronin and master strategist Miyomoto Musashi who is to Japan what Ned Kelly, Robin Hood, and Jesse James are to Australia, England, and the United States, repectively.
The campaign launched when the Sea Shepherd ship Steve Irwin departed the Port of Brisbane, Autstralia, with an international volunteer crew of 48 headed for the Southern Ocean Whale Sanctuary. The crew included 33 men and 15 women; 14 of the crew are from Australia and 4 from New Zealand with the rest of the crew hailing from Japan, Canada, Great Britain, the USA, Sweden, the Netherlands, Germany, South Africa, Hungary, and Bermuda.
The mission was successful – to again intervene against the illegal Japanese whaling fleet. This season, Sea Shepherd's boat chased the fleet more than 3200 kilometers through the icy waters of the Antarctic Ocean before withdrawing in February. We saved the lives of 305 whales.
Again, we were joined by the Animal Planet crew, filming for the TV series Whale Wars.
2009 December: Our ships Steve Irwin and the Ady Gil depart for Antarctica in search of the Japanese whaling fleet while our newly-acquired ship Bob Barker secretly departs from Mauritius to locate and surprise the whaling fleet.
2010 January – March: Three of our ships (Steve Irwin, Bob Barker ,and Ady Gil) navigate to the Southern Ocean Whale Sanctuary to intervene against illegal whaling activities by the Japanese. The Shonan Maru No. 2 deliberately rams and sinks the Ady Gil. Captain Peter Bethune boards the Shonan Maru No. 2 to deliver an invoice for the loss of his sunken boat which results in his transport to a Japanese prison. For three weeks straight, not a single whale is killed while the Sea Shepherd ships follow the whaling fleet. Operation Waltzing Matilda is a success resulting in saving the lives of 528 whales and costing the Japanese tens of millions of dollar in losses.
For the 3rd year, we were joined by the Animal Planet crew, filming for the TV series Whale Wars.