The newly commissioned 1,200-ton ship donated to the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society by animal activist Bob Barker came to the aid of a smaller boat on January 6th after a collision with Japanese whalers in the Antarctic. Six crew members were transferred from their sinking high-tech speedboat called the Ady Gil, onto the new vessel.
Every year anti whaling ships are sent to the freezing waters in Antarctica by the Sea Shepherd organization to stop illegal whaling hunts. The confrontation between the Ady Gil and the Japanese ship named the Shonan Maru was the worst in several years. The collision broke off 10 ft of the speedboat and left one of the crew with cracked ribs.
The New York Times reported, “Sea Shepherd’s leader, Paul Watson, has labeled the incident a deliberate attack by Japan, but Japan’s whaling institute, which claims the whale hunt is scientific research, blamed the conservation group for what it called, “illegal harassment and terrorism.”
Locky Maclean, the first mate on the society’s lead ship told the Associated Press what he witnessed. “They were stopped dead in the water when the incident occurred. When they realized that the Shonan Maru was aiming right for them, they tried to go into reverse to get the bow out of the way, but it was too late. The Shonan Maru made a course correction and plowed directly into the front end of the boat.”
The Institute of Cetacean Research that oversees Japanese hunts countered the claim by explaining that they tried to avoid a collision, but the smaller boat miscalculated their maneuver and the accident occurred.
The confrontation was the first for the new ship named the Bob Barker – after its benefactor. The famed game show host and animal rights advocate donated $5 million dollars to Sea Shepherd after being introduced to Paul Watson through a mutual associate.
L.A. Unleashed reported Barker saying, “He said he thought he could put the Japanese whaling fleet out of business if he had $5 million. I said, ‘I think you do have the skills to do that, and I have $5 million, so let’s get it on,’ so that’s what we did.”
The Sea Shepherd Conservation Society is a non-profit marine conservation organization. It is funded by private and corporate donations and an impressive 80.8% of its income goes directly toward programs to stop illegal whaling hunts. When an international moratorium on commercial whaling was ignored by Japanese whalers in 1986, the organization started sending ships to protect the whales. They continue their efforts every year during the summers in Antarctica.
The clash on Wednesday is the fourth confrontation between the Sea Shepherd and Japanese whalers, this season.
Sea Shepherd Conservation Society webpage - I.C.R.