Thursday, February 21, 2019

Whale Wars

Credit: Sea Shepherd
Steve Irwin deck crew recovers empty life raft
watch the video

The Steve Irwin's search and rescue mission ends tragically. Final footage of those lost at sea says it all.

As they approach, it becomes clearer that it's a life raft of some sort. You can hear the tension mount as crew members are holding their breath wondering what they might find.

The life raft has been destroyed - ripped to shreds. As they finally approach the remains, the crew is concerned that they will find bodies. Finally, close enough to see what is left from the destroyed, black life raft, they only find the raft. No bodies are found. There may still be hope for the crew from the Beserk.

The Steve Irwin makes a call into the New Zealand Search and Rescue to give them an update on what they have found. Search and Rescue give them news that the New Zealand Navy actually lost five life rafts while out on the same search and rescue mission.

There is new information from Search and Rescue officials. Norwegian rescue authorities confirm 34-year-old Jarie Andhoy and 18-year-old Samuel Massie have been rescued and pass this news along to the Steve Irwin. The crew breaks out in a moment of celebration. But soon enough, it's back to searching for the life raft. There are still three of the yacht's crew lost at sea.

Aultman arrives at his location. There is no one. Aultman radios in his findings.

After hearing from Aultman, crew members hang their heads as their concern grows. The reality that the crew may find nothing or bodies is growing onboard the Steve Irwin. Aultman is requested to return to the Steve Irwin. From the vast area Aultman has covered, all agree that after more than 50 hours at sea and in such extraordinary conditions there is only a remote chance, if any that the remaining crew members have survived.

As Aultman heads back to the Steve Irwin, he sees something up ahead. It's an orange and black life raft. This is unlike the black life raft the Steve Irwin found. He radios in to the Steve Irwin. All are waiting as Aultman approaches.

According to, the life raft was discovered 45 miles north of the position where the distress signal was issued and is consistent with the drift and wind. Now, just above the raft, Aultman sees no one is inside. A bit of conversation and everyone is wondering if this is another Navy raft that they lost. Is there still a strand of hope remaining?

But what no one wants to hear is confirmed. It turns out that it is the raft from the Beserk.

Tears roll down one of the crew members' face. The expression on various crew members paints the picture of the 'nothing' that is found. More than likely, the remaining three crew members have lost their lives at sea. Thoughts of offering their condolences are shared. The crew has done all they could.

After another call to the New Zealand Search & Rescue, the Steve Irwin is told the search has now been officially called off. They receive thanks for their two-day efforts. But all the crew members can think about is how precious life is. Some begin to think about the families and friends of these three lost sailors. There is much sorrow and heartache to go through.

Officials later make the call to declare all three men dead - victims of Mother Nature's wrath. The three men are identified as 34-year-old Norwegian, Robert Skaanes, 36-year-old Norwegian, Tom Gisle Bellika, and 32-year-old South-African, Leonard J. Banks.

The last moments of this Whale Wars episode show the final footage shot of the three lost men at sea by the two surviving members of the Beserk.

"...So, take hard and with style... I hope you come back as Arctic knights...there is something good to come back as Arctic Knights...Okay. Be good...Good luck...Cheerio!...Hello Mama!" (Click on video link provided for actual footage)

Next week, the Steve Irwin finds its pot of gold. They come upon the Nisshin Maru, the mother ship of the Japanese whaling fleet. Cheers of accomplishment break out.

But the celebration is short-lived. The Nisshin Maru is headed into the ice as fast as it can travel. This places the Steve Irwin at great risk once again. Is it worth the risk to go after the one Japanese vessel that is responsible for the ongoing loss of whales every year?

The answer is obvious. It's worth the risk.

As Captain Watson says, that's what Sea Shepherd crew know they have signed up for. These men and women have left their friends and family to save the whales - to finally end Japanese whaling once and for all.

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1 comments on Whale Wars

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By BusinessLife on July 19, 2011 at 04:27 pm

Hurricane Dean: Thanks for your great comments. The show, "Whale Wars" every Friday night on Animal Planet has my family glued to the screen everytime. I've read a lot about Paul Watson. I am going to be able to interview him soon and am looking forward to the opportunity. I also read where he left Greenpeace based on his 'radical' views. However, passion such as his should be contagious so that each of us can be passionate about something positive that we can do for our families, friends and mankind in general.

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