Friday, February 22, 2019

Whale Wars

Credit: Sea Shepherd Conservation Society
The Bob Barker trails the Sun Laurel and can't break away to search for the Japanese whaling ship

Where is the lead whaling ship, the Nisshin Maru? The Gojira is still in port with engine problems. The Bob Barker is trailing the supposed refueling vessel. Can the Steve Irwin stop whaling alone?

An anonymous tip gives the crew of the Steve Irwin a chance to locate the Japanese whaling factory ship, Nisshin Maru. But because the tip is 2 days old, the crew is working within a 200-mile radius.

With this guide, helicopter pilot, Chris Aultman takes to the sky in search of the Nisshin Maru. It's 5:00 am. Despite the tip, the Steve Irwin is running out of fuel and they are alone.

Two thousand miles from the Steve Irwin, the Sea Shepherd's fastest vessel, the Gojira is stuck in port. Problems with the motor still persist.

Meanwhile, the Bob Barker is tailing the Japanese whaler's possible fueling vessel, the Sun Laurel.

But with the harpoon boat tailing them, the Bob Barker is unavailable to help the Steve Irwin in its search for the lead whaling ship.

With one day left of fuel, the Steve Irwin is running down to its last hours to find the Nisshin Maru in an attempt to cripple the whaling season altogether.

Aultman radios in to say that he has found no sign of the whaling ship. He's headed back in to refuel his helicopter and himself. It's now 8:30 am. Aultman will need to refuel every two hours throughout the day's search.

Captain Paul Watson, Founder of the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society knows it's all about patience. Soon enough he has to believe they will run across the Japanese whaling vessel.

It's about 6:00pm. After 12 hours, Aultman has covered the majority of the 200-mile search area with no sign of the factory ship. Aultman contacts the Steve Irwin to update the crew.

Aultman says he will give it 10 more minutes before he heads back. But just as he is about to end the conversation, Aultman sees something ahead. He isn't sure what it is.

He sees a dark object. Aultman says it's probably ice but he is going to get close enough to make that call. Within the time remaining he utters the words that all onboard the Steve Irwin are waiting to hear.

After nearly two months of searching, the Steve Irwin crew have found the Nisshin Maru. The entire crew erupts into applause and cheers of victory.

Finding the lead Japanese whaling ship means they can stop the transfer of whales. They can stop any whale from losing their lives this whaling season.

Aultman flies over the Nisshin Maru and calls back to say the Japanese fleet are indeed whaling. He sees a whale carcass onboard. This means they will return to Japan with some whale meat.

Feelings of victory and success soon turn to heartbreak and sorrow. The Sea Shepherd’s campaign of stopping any whale from being slaughtered is now a distant memory.

Now, the Nisshin Maru is going 12 knots into the ice. The whaling vessel is making a run for it to give them a way to continue whaling. This astounds helicopter pilot, Aultman and Captain Watson.

The Nisshin Maru has always avoided the ice. Over the years, the ice has claimed two ships. This isn't stopping the vessel from charging through the ice, almost at full speed - 12 or 13 knots.

Now, Captain Paul Watson must decide if the Steve Irwin will follow the Nisshin Maru into the path of ice or go down around and hope they don’t double back to continue whaling.

Up next: Whale Wars "Enemy In Their Grasp" Part 2

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