Defend the Southern Ocean Whale Sanctuary!

Feature story - November 21, 2005
A voyage of one year. Four oceans. One million Ocean defenders. That’s our response to the growing crisis our oceans face. We are launching our most ambitious ship expedition ever, to respond to the threats and highlight the wonders of our marine world. It’s going to be an amazing journey - and we’re taking you with us!

The Greenpeace ship MY Esperanza sets sail from Rotterdam harbour, The Netherlands bound for Cape Town, South Africa where the organization is embarking on a major global oceans expedition. Greenpeace is calling for a network of marine reserves which are needed to protect and restore the health of the world's oceans.

The Esperanza will take us through four oceans over 14 months, all the while mapping and demonstrating the emergency need for a global network of marine reserves - comprising 40 percent of our planets oceans. These marine reserves would act like national parks at sea, giving the oceans a fighting chance of survival. "Only through establishing and enforcing a vast network of marine reserves can we reverse the decline and guarantee our children's right to inherit healthy seas,"  said Shane Rattenbury, head of Greenpeace's Oceans Campaign.

Cutting-edge technology

The Esperanza has been fitted out with cutting-edge communications technology.  We will be online 24/7 with blogs, chats, video blogs, podcasts, webcams and much more. We're pulling together a million people to become "Ocean Defenders" with us, to help save the oceans and be a part of the action. It's your chance to really get involved in the action wherever we are -- from wherever you are.

The start of an incredible journey: Southern Ocean Whale Sanctuary

Heading south from Cape town, South Africa, the Esperanza will be accompanied by the Arctic Sunrise on the first leg of this expedition. We are returning to the internationally recognised waters of the Southern Ocean Whale Sanctuary to defend the whales and call for an immediate end to the annual hunt referred to as "scientific whaling".

This year the Fisheries Agency of Japan intends to more than double its catch of minke whales to 935. Adding insult to injury this year 10 fin whales will also be caught in the harpooner's sights. Next year 40 more fin whales will be added along with 50 humpback whales. Both are recognised as endangered species. These actions defy international protests and repeated calls from the International Whaling Commission to stop the annual hunt.

We're not going to stand by.  We're heading out in search of the hunters to take a non-violent stand against them, and calling upon the global community to help us hunt the hunters.  The law of six degrees of separation means that you, dear reader, know somebody who knows somebody who knows somebody who knows precisely where the whalers will be hunting this year.

Hunt the hunters

We have our own methods of  locating them, but this is always a very difficult task.  If you know someone who works in maritime tracking,  satellite imagery, the Japanese fishing industry, cetacean  research, who's doing an ocean crossing in the Pacific or working in some other field that might have first hand knowledge of where the fleet will be, pass the message along - they may be holding information which could save the lives of whales.  The ship we are seeking is named the Nisshin Maru, gross tonnage 8,030, length 130 metres, radio call sign JJCJ. She is the factory ship and will be accompanied by three catchers, Kyo Maru No. 1 with radio call sign JKNG, the Yushin Maru call sign JLZS and Yushin Maru No. 2, call sign JPPV. These ships left Shimonoseki, Southern Japan, at 10am local time on the 8th of November 2005.

You can send information to   All information in strictest confidence.

The story of the oceans

"Even though the ban on commercial whaling has been agreed, the international community has failed stop the hunt. Starting with the easiest whales to catch, vast whaling fleets have pushed one species after another to the brink of extinction." said Rattenbury. "The persecution of the great whales is a tragic echo of what is happening throughout our oceans," Rattenbury added.

From the Southern ocean we will continue the expedition along the coast of Africa, through the Mediterranean, across Asia and the Pacific and down the west coast of the Americas, returning to Antarctic waters in 2007, exposing the threats and providing solutions to the crisis facing our oceans today.

We will tell the story of the oceans, from the life forms that call it home, to the people whose lives depend on it. The oceans cover two thirds of our planet, hold 85 percent of all life and provide half the air we breathe. It's time to stand up and start defending our oceans now. Be one in a million - become an Ocean Defender.

Become an Ocean Defender

Be one in a million