It's a long haul back to where the Japanese whaling fleet is presently engaged in their illegal plundering of the whale sanctuary. The weather reports look bleak, the swells look intimidating and the winds are increasing.

"This is not some fair weather voyage," said Pedro Monteiro from Florida. "This is a sea trip at its most extreme, in the most remote and hostile waters on the planet. We have no illusions about how much danger is involved. But knowing that we are saving hundreds of whales makes it all worthwhile."

Captain Paul Watson has informed the Australian government that Sea Shepherd would be willing to back off from confronting the whaling fleet for a year if either Australia or New Zealand mount a challenge to Japan to defend their actions before an international court.

"Our critics say that the risks we take are unacceptable," said Captain Watson. "I disagree, the saving of a species is more important than risking your life for oil or territory. However we should not be taking these risks. Governments should be upholding international conservation law. We take these risks because governments are not acting responsibly to protect the resources of this planet. If the government of Australia decides to take action, we can step back and allow them to do their job. Calling us eco-vigilantes or pirates does not bother us. What would bother us is to be doing nothing at all when laws are being broken, endangered species are dying and the criminal killers are being ignored."

The Sea Shepherd Conservation Society ship Steve Irwin should arrive on the whale killing grounds around January 29th and will pursue the Japanese whaling fleet into the month of March.