The Chase Continues - Day Eight: Pouncing on the Japanese Slaughterhouse in the Frozen Southern Mist

Commentary by Captain Paul Watson
On Board the Sea Shepherd ship Steve Irwin

Penetrating deep into the Southern Ocean, we passed the 65 degree south line and continued onwards. All of the ships officers and crew were very much aware of the danger we were moving towards.

The weather has been getting increasingly nasty, each day nastier than the day before. The ice floes filling most of Porpoise Bay are fast, solid, and steadily sending out assaults of bergs and growlers. At the speed we need to maintain to pursue the whalers, hitting one of those solid cobalt blue chunks of iron hard ice could punch a hole into our steel hull. It happened to a tourist ship a few months ago, and they were in waters less dangerous than this. Its like a minefield of frozen horror with these bergy bits bobbing up and down, sometimes visible and sometimes not, and especially now that night has returned to these parts.

Not that the days are much better. Fog, sleet, frozen rain, hail, and sea spray make observations very difficult, and the chunks of ice are everywhere, only this time invisible. Our years of experience  navigating the ice floes off Eastern Canada to protect seals were now paying off with the voyages down in the Southern Oceans. But still, the entrance to Porpoise Bay looked forbidding and all the signs screamed stay away.

But the Yushin Maru was in there, and that was where we headed. Into the frozen maw of hell, on the eighth day of our pursuit of the Japanese whaling fleet since we relocated them on February 23rd. And as we approached the ice sheet of Porpoise Bay, there they were! First, we spotted the Yushin Maru, and she tried to lead us north. We ignored her and continued south, and finally there on the radar was the moving target we were looking for - the Nishin Maru, the Cetacean Death Star, the worlds largest floating slaughterhouse, the most evil and bloody cruel ship on all the worlds oceans.

The dense fog parted and there she was, like an evil wraith silently moving amongst massive icebergs, quiet, efficient and deadly.

The rest of the fleet, at least four other vessels, scattered in different directions, but we remained focused on the Nishin Maru. If they had any thoughts of whaling today or tomorrow, we have ruined their plans. And like the cowards they are, they began to run and once again we began to chase but this time we had them in our sights.

My only regret is that we dont have our helicopter and pilot Chris Aultman onboard. Without a hanger onboard, we could not risk taking the helicopter out a second time. Im hoping we can construct a new helicopter deck with a hanger before we are forced to return to these waters at the end of this year again.

I have to admit it, I do get weary of returning to these waters each year but we have the satisfaction of knowing that we get stronger and more effective with each season. And as long as these ruthless killers keep coming down here to slay defenseless whales, we will continue to come down here to stop them. We will never surrender the Southern Ocean Whale Sanctuary to the killers of whales - never!

Ahead of us is the stern of the Nishin Maru, cowardly fleeing through the maze of bergs. Flocks of giant petrels are flying alongside and ahead of us, and the whales in these waters need not fear the harpoon today. The shepherds of the sea are here with and amongst them, and the killers remain on the run.