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The Gojira Deploys Balloons in the Southern Ocean’s Whale Wars

Report from Captain Paul Watson

Crewmembers Larry Routledge and Ben Wilson fill a balloon with heliumCrewmembers Larry Routledge and Ben Wilson fill a balloon with heliumThe Ross Sea is beginning to open up, and Sea Shepherd is watching the narrow opening very carefully to see if the Nisshin Maru attempts to slip through. Sea Shepherd knows the whalers want in there and the ice this year has delayed their entrance until about now. Fortunately for the whales, the doorway through the ice is narrow at the moment.

The Japanese whaling fleet is comprised of only four ships this year including the Nisshin Maru and her three hunter killer boats. Instead of deploying the Shonan Maru No. 2 as their security boat, Japan placed armed coast guard officers on the existing whaling vessels.

Two of the hunter killer boats the Yushin Maru No. 2 and the Yushin Maru No. 3, have been on Sea Shepherd’s tail since December 31st, 2010 when they first encountered them. Sea Shepherd can state with absolute certainty that neither one of these Japanese vessels has killed a whale this season. That leaves just the Yushin Maru No. 1, which is presumably with the Cetacean Death Star, also known as the Nisshin Maru. However, the Nisshin Maru has been running westward for eight days now, and has had little time to stop and whale as it tries to stay ahead of Sea Shepherd’s the Gojira vessel and the Nancy Burnet helicopter.

Sea Shepherd has another surveillance device that they have been using on the Operation No Compromise campaign - high altitude weather balloons with attached cameras and radar detection capabilities. This technology allows them to keep tabs on the factory ship from over 150 miles away.

There is the possibility that the Yushin Maru No. 1 could be hunting whales, but at the fast rate the Nisshin Maru has been moving, some 1,400 miles over the last eight days, there appears to be insufficient time to track, harpoon, and transfer whales. At worst, having two of the three killer boats neutralized has handicapped the whaling fleet, while the third is on the run and hardly in a position to deliver its daily quota for the factory vessel.

This also means that every day these four ships are burning large amounts of fuel and having very little to show for it, but at some point, the Nisshin Maru and her little gang of harpoon hooligans will need to refuel. Sea Shepherd intends to interfere with any attempts at refueling. It is illegal to refuel large ships below 60 degrees south, and doing so would be a violation of the Antarctic Treaty.

The whaling fleet now has a big problem. If they take their harpoon boats off the tail of the Bob Barker and the Steve Irwin, both Sea Shepherd ships will be free to hunt down the Nisshin Maru without a tail constantly forwarding our position. If they don’t take off their tailing ships, they are without two killing boats for the duration of the season which will cost them a great deal of money.

Evidence of the whaling fleet’s poor financial condition is that they have been forced to deploy harpooners as tailing vessels whereas in the past, they employed a specific security ship such as the Shonan Maru No. 2 or the Fukuyoshi No. 68 leaving the harpooners free to slaughter whales. The whaling fleet loses either way; by tailing us they lose, and by removing their tails they lose.

Meanwhile, the Gojira is free of a tail and therefore able to search out the Nisshin Maru using radar and eye in the sky weather balloons.

This is the ninth day since Sea Shepherd’s ships first encountered the Japanese whaling fleet. The Japanese whalers are quickly running out of time to secure their kill quota. I think we can confidently say that this will be a financially disastrous year for the whalers, and a humiliating year for the Japanese government for failing to remove Sea Shepherd as the thorn in the side of their despicable whaling industry.

Captain Locky MacLean and crewmember Kevin McGinty launching weather balloonsCaptain Locky MacLean and crewmember Kevin McGinty launching
weather balloons
Captain Locky MacLean launches a weather balloonCaptain Locky MacLean launches a weather balloon
Crewmember Kevin McGinty readies a balloon for launchCrewmember Kevin McGinty readies a balloon for launch A balloon floats up above the Southern OceanA balloon floats up above the Southern Ocean
Operation No Compromise

No Compromise

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