Whaling and protest resumes

Feature story - 6 January, 2006
The crews of the Esperanza and Arctic Sunrise are once again in action in the Southern Ocean after 10 days of no whales being killed. Expedition leader Shane Rattenbury said: "We caught up with the whalers again late last night and saw seven whale carcasses on the deck. Four activists in an inflatable boat are on the water, near the Kyo Maru catcher ship, acting to defend the whales caught in the sights of the harpoons."

Friday 6 January - The action in the Southern Ocean continues as activists follow the trail of blood left by a harpooned minke whale being taken for processing.

"The Esperanza crew saw at least 4 more dead whales being transferred from the two catchers today," added Shane.

On December 21, the longest day of the year in the Southern Ocean, after a month at sea we foundthe Japanese whaling fleet. For the first few days it was all hands ondeck and all inflatables in the water as we blocked the harpooner'sline of sight and defended whales and as we slowed the transfer ofwhales from the catchers to the fleets factory ship the Nisshin Maru.

Mikey, an Australian activist, earned himself the reputation of "whale rider" as he heroically clung to a dead whale,brandishing a "Stop Whaling" banner while being blasted with firehoses."I must admit the look of dismay I had on my face when I looked up atthe whaling crew and they were looking down with smugness andlaughter," he wrote in our weblog.

The crews sent stunning photographs and video footage to the world. Some of that footage was analysed by the International Fund for Animal Welfare(IFAW). IFAW scientist and whale expert Vassili Papastavrou, whowatched the footage, said: "We were told by Greenpeace this whale took10 minutes to die. This is how a whale was killed when the boats werebeing observed, so what happens when they're not being seen?"

Then, in an unprecedented move, the whaling fleet fled. We have been tothe Southern Ocean seven times to halt whaling in the past, and thiswas the first time that we kept a fleet on the run for several days.But this is also the first time that we have had our fastest ship, theEsperanza, in the Southern Ocean.

The Japanese ships fledalmost 2,000 nautical miles (3,700km) over the past 11 days, putting atemporary stop to their whaling operations. The fleet may now be undereven more pressure to meet their quota. Shane said, "We lost track ofthe fleet for about 24 hours after they refuelled, but we are back inplace ready to ensure they don't meet their new whaling quota of 935minke and 10 fin whales."

Stay tuned to the weblog for the latest updates.

Take action

Large international companies are linked to whaling. Tell Gorton's and Nissui that their customers do not support whaling!