|Thursday, February 10, 2011|
Nisshin Maru…we found you!
The Bob Barker, along with the Gojira, had been intensely searching for the Nisshin Maru for the last couple of days. After making a grim discovery of whale guts and blubber in the water, we knew we were in the vicinity of the factory death ship. We all desperately wanted to find the Nisshin so we could stop the butchering of whales permanently for this whaling season. Crew voluntarily conducted a round-the-clock watch on the top of the freezing foremast to maintain a vigilant lookout. Distant icebergs played tricks on our eyes, changing and shifting with the light to resemble a ship one minute, and just another iceberg the next. Every hour that passed was another hour that a whale could die.
Around 10 p.m. last night, I felt the ship suddenly accelerate and change course. I hurried downstairs to see what was going on. Peter, our 1st Officer, came down from the bridge for an unusually late crew meeting. With a deadpan face that didn't belie any particular news, Peter told us that there was bad news and good news. The bad news was that we did not find the Nisshin Maru. The good news was that the Gojira did! The Gojira had finally found the Nisshin, and we were in pursuit.
This morning at 4 a.m. came the moment I had been so anxious for since we departed for campaign over two months ago - seeing the slipway of the Nisshin Maru! The very last of the world's factory whaling ships, it is a relic from a time when people slaughtered whales in astonishing numbers, reducing magnificent animals to parts for human usage. It's a foreboding, evil ship that has no place in the 21st century.
We passed some Minke whales in between ice floes full of cute penguins and plump seals. I knew we had saved their lives, and will save many more. As long as we are behind the slipway of the Nisshin Maru, it will remain empty. With each of Sea Shepherd's Antarctic Whale Defense campaigns, I am confident that the whaling factory ship is one year closer to extinction, and the whales are closer to finally having a sanctuary.