Operation Migaloo

Antarctic Whale Defense Campaign
Captain & Crew Blog 07-08

Check out the latest reports from Captain Paul Watson and the crew from onboard the Steve Irwin from the Operation Migaloo Campaign.

March 7, 2008

by David Page
On Board the Sea Shepherd ship Steve Irwin

The Steve Irwin Chronical

No sooner do I transmit an update that life has been boring than Captain Paul Watson decided to have a last fling at the Nisshin Maru. He intended to then head south towards where the fleet almost certainly is, to scatter them before us. Once out of radar range of the Nisshin Maru, we would leave the ships to speculate on our position and turn towards Melbourne. We had warned the Nisshin Maru earlier that they had left Australian Territorial waters and entered French territorial waters. They responded by turning around 180 degrees. They know that the Australian Government are pushovers. The French less so.

At 1400 hours the Steve Irwin took a close pass and tossed 2 stink bombs with rotten butter containers and several methylcellulose paper packets to make the deck slippery. They advised that they would retaliate with concussion grenades and tear gas if we took another pass. We did so anyway and the crew threw more rotten butter containers with several methylcellulose paper containers.

This time they took a run at ramming our tail after throwing half a dozen concussion grenades AT our dedicated throwers and media crew.

Our messages were not thrown near personnel. The third run by they traded more grenades for several paper packets and our captain took a lead bullet to the left front chest.

Paul clutched his chest and came into the wheelhouse where I removed his survival suit and dug a bullet out of the Kevlar vest over his heart. The jumper under the vest had a big metal badge heavily indented by the bullet. He sustained heavy bruising to his ample subcutaneous tissue.

This is an escalation of violence by the Japanese government. We have continuous video footage of the Nisshin Maru from several angles with each encounter. There were no overt weapons handling recorded. The holstered pistols were noted on the Japanese Customs officers. One static camera shot from a rapid motor driven sequence by a professional photographer, captured what appears to be a muzzle flash from the darkened deck space. The media crew is trying right now to correlate their video. It was observed that one of the Coast Guard Officers was absent from the deck, compared to our last approach.

Since the shooting the Japanese government has confirmed that their ship fired some warning shots, unspecified. We have a large independent media crew onboard. It will be interesting to see how this pans out. We still trail them, heading west.

I saw a Southern Right whale this afternoon and 3 Humpbacks. Long may they live.

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March 6, 2008

by Captain Paul Watson
On Board the Sea Shepherd ship Steve Irwin

The Great Southern Ocean Whaling Ship Chase - Day Thirteen
The Chase Continues

West then East then West then East we go,
The Steve Irwin is fast, the Nisshin Maru is slow,
Five Hundred whales remain uncaught,
Worth all the weather and whalers we have fought.
                - Sea Shepherd thoughts

As the Steve Irwin sticks like crazy glue to the Japanese factory ship Nisshin Maru the two vessels are now back where they both started five days ago.

What is the Japanese whaling fleet doing?

First they run at full speed 750 nautical miles to the west and then turn around and run full speed back to the place they started running. In that time they have used over 100 tons of fuel at a cost approaching $100,000. And they have not killed a single whale.

The harpoon vessels are doing nothing but waiting for the return of their mother ship. The whaling season is coming to a close and a very large storm is approaching from the west, large enough to prevent the whalers from hunting for days.

The much faster Steve Irwin has been running circles around the Nisshin Maru for over 1500 miles.

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by Jeff Hansen
On Board the Sea Shepherd ship Steve Irwin

March 2, 2008

We continued to head east on our suspected course of the fleet. The conditions were getting worse as the Southern Ocean threw everything it could at us. Looking at the charts the next bay was called Porpoise Bay, a very likely place to kill some whales.

We continued to head east, planning on dropping into Porpoise bay from directly above the fleet. Coming from above would catch the Fukuyoshi Maru No 68 and the fleet unaware, as they would expect us to be coming in from the west.

However, as we approached Porpoise Bay we looked at the ice charts, which showed heavy ice right in the heart of Porpoise Bay. As a result we continued east. In analyzing the ice charts I noticed that the next bay along (opposite Cape Keltie) had ice at 1-3 tenths which meant 10 to 30 % ice, which was an identical ratio that was in the Davis Sea near the Shackleton Ice shelf where they were whacking whales last week.

This seemed like the place where we would find the fleet. I asked 1st Officer Peter Brown to come over for a chat and explained the situation. He totally agreed with my logic. I could see only one place the fleet could be, in the bay opposite Cape Keltie.

Given that it was night and we didn’t want to head into the ice at night, we decided to position ourselves just north of the bay and wait until morning to pounce.

After my shift I went down to the mess where Captain Watson, Willie and Lawrence were playing Texan Hold’em. Lawrence went out quick and dealt until I took over. I said I would really like to play one night, so Lawrence said he would be more than happy to cover my shift for me. I took over the dealing as Willie proceeded to claw his way back into the game and take down the Captain and all the winnings.

Even though I knew tomorrow could be a big day I stayed up till 2am hanging with the Captain and Willie.

March 3, 2008

I awoke late and raced up to the bridge. We had decided that they were in on top of Porpoise Bay. Peter Hammerstedt and Peter Brown decided to just head straight to porpoise bay. We had passed Porpoise Bay and were right over Cape Keltie, so we decided on a heading of southwest to intercept the fleet. Something just didn’t add up to me. My gut still told me that they were south of us, I just felt more and more anxious that we were heading in the wrong direction. After an hour I called Peter Brown over and said that I just needed to get something off my chest and explained my reasons for going south.

He agreed with me and made the call to head south! Well within 30 minutes we had a vessel on our radar. It was doing around 14 knots then when it became aware of us it headed east at 17 knots. It could be the Fukuyoshi or a hunter vessel. There was a lot of fog around that lifted and returned. In the end it was the captain that made the call. He took a photo with his camera and then zoomed on the object. It was a harpoon vessel, a Yusshin Maru.

We tried to fire up the second engine, but it over heated, so we had to revert to one. As there was no way to chase this vessel, Peter Brown asked me where I thought the Nisshin Maru would be? I marked an X on the chart where I thought the Nisshin Maru would be inside the bay of ice and then worked out the bearing. It was south southeast.

This was the second time today that I had made a call, it was hard to do, but I had to back myself and believe that I was doing the right thing. Well within 30 mins we had another 2 targets on the radar, one moving at 17 knots and another moving much slower. I was so relieved as I know so many supporters all over the world are behind us 100% willing us to make the right decisions and be a effective as we can in saving the oceans and in this case the great whales.

As the faster vessel approached we came up with the logic that it is either the Fukuyoshi or another harpoon vessel, but there stood a very good chance that the other vessel could be the golden prize, the mother of all evil, the Nisshin Maru!

We had a visual on the faster vessel as it steamed on passed our port bow at a range of 3 nM and it was a harpoon vessel. We knew that the Nissin Maru was always very close to the Yusshin Maru 2 and 3. This could be it. We set a course to try and intercept the target.

It was range 11 miles and as such we could not get a lock on it with the radar and get its heading and speed. We followed it East on a parallel course due south of us. Looking ahead on the ice chart it looked like it would have to come up eventually, otherwise it would be trapped. Moving through the ice fields was amazing, beautiful sculptures of white and blue ice, some towering like giant city walls with building and caves carved out by the sea and wind. We also spotted a beautiful sperm whale, my first one. This place should be left alone; I can’t believe the atrocities that man is allowed to commit down here!

We had arrived and scattered the fleet, this beautiful area was now protected; there would be no whaling here for as long as we can keep them on the run.

As the vessel moved north to get around some ice we started to close in. We tried to bring up the second engine, but once again we overheated and had to drop back again as the target slowly slipped away. We had lost the target off the radar and were still waiting for word from the engine room when it once again appeared on the radar.

It had to go around another iceberg and as a result had dropped back and appeared on our radar. As it was slowly creeping away, Charles came up from the engine room. He explained what he thought the problem was and suggested giving it another go.

As we slowly brought the pitch up, we still had our target on the radar, it was at around 14 miles. We were able to keep it on our radar as we slowly brought the pitch up until eventually we had it at 75%. As we moved in on the vessel, it turned north and we plotted an intercept course which enabled us to gain more ground. At under 9 miles I was able to lock in the target and gain its bearing and speed. The vessel continued to travel north at around 13 - 14 knots and at around 8pm, the start of my watch (even though I hadn’t left since the morning) we had a positive id. Noah had taken a photo with his massive zoom lense, which we could then zoom in on. In the fog at 6.3 miles lying in fog was the mother of all whale slaughter on the high seas, the factory ship herself, the Nisshin Maru!!!!

Throughout the watch we constantly made ground on her, around one third of a mile per hour, but then in the last hour she started heading westerly, which is in the direction of a possible storm. Being 8 times the size of us, she can much easily plough through the heavy seas and get away from us. However as she turned she slowed and thus we gained on her.

As I left the bridge for the night, seeing her two aft and stern lights in the distance, the Nisshin Maru was now down to under 3 miles and we were closing. I was exhausted from a long day, but I had to get some rest for the large day ahead tomorrow.

Thanks so much Peter Brown for listening to my logic and making the hard call, which paid off in us reaching the golden prize!!!

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March 1, 2008

by Captain Paul Watson
On Board the Sea Shepherd ship Steve Irwin

The Chase Continues - Day Eight: Pouncing on the Japanese Slaughterhouse in the Frozen Southern Mist

Penetrating deep into the Southern Ocean, we passed the 65 degree south line and continued onwards. All of the ships officers and crew were very much aware of the danger we were moving towards.

The weather has been getting increasingly nasty, each day nastier than the day before. The ice floes filling most of Porpoise Bay are fast, solid, and steadily sending out assaults of bergs and growlers. At the speed we need to maintain to pursue the whalers, hitting one of those solid cobalt blue chunks of iron hard ice could punch a hole into our steel hull. It happened to a tourist ship a few months ago, and they were in waters less dangerous than this. Its like a minefield of frozen horror with these bergy bits bobbing up and down, sometimes visible and sometimes not, and especially now that night has returned to these parts.

Not that the days are much better. Fog, sleet, frozen rain, hail, and sea spray make observations very difficult, and the chunks of ice are everywhere, only this time invisible. Our years of experience  navigating the ice floes off Eastern Canada to protect seals were now paying off with the voyages down in the Southern Oceans. But still, the entrance to Porpoise Bay looked forbidding and all the signs screamed stay away.

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February 29, 2008

by Captain Paul Watson
On Board the Sea Shepherd ship Steve Irwin

The Chase Continues - Day Seven

For a week this large Japanese stern trawler the Fukuyoshi Maru No. 68 has been on our tail, never saying anything, just following, and relaying our position constantly to the Japanese whaling fleet.

The Sea Shepherd ship Steve Irwin has been able to keep on the tail of the whaling ships but we have been unable to close in because of the real time updates from the Fukuyoshi Maru No. 68.

They have not been able to kill any whales however because they are continuously on the move. If they stop we can catch up with them.

Now, however, our job has become considerably easier. We have shaken our tail and the Japanese Coast Guard on the Fukuyoshi Maru No. 68 does not know where we are.

Thanks to a heavy storm in a sea of icebergs, we were able to shake them loose. They lost us on their radar. We lost them on our radar. I then decided to stop and drift in the fog amongst the icebergs.

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February 28, 2008

by Captain Paul Watson
On Board the Sea Shepherd ship Steve Irwin

The Chase Continues - Day Six

Leap year gave us an extra day this month, but despite that it looks like we have made it to the end of February without any whales killed for last six days.

We are chasing the Japanese in circles and there does not seem to be any rhyme or reason as to what the Japanese whalers are doing. What we do know is that they are wasting fuel and not catching any whales.

We had two Humpback whales breach beside the ship today.

The weather is getting colder and we are getting many hours of darkness now. The Antarctic winter is creeping up on us. The seas are getting rougher and we are getting blizzards. The Japanese whalers are running out of time.

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February 27, 2008

by Captain Paul Watson
On Board the Sea Shepherd ship Steve Irwin

The Chase Continues - Day Five

The Sea Shepherd ship Steve Irwin almost caught up with the Japanese fleet in Vincennes Bay where they were attempting hunt whales. They did not make much progress. We were almost on them when they took off again – this time due north and after a hundred miles they headed east again.

The weather has turned nasty and heavy fog has surrounded us for hours. Mammoth icebergs slip by seen only as large masses on our radar. The spray crashing over the bow and splashing onto the windows of the wheelhouse turns to ice immediately. Winter is coming and that means that the Japanese only have a few weeks left to kill whales and Sea Shepherd crew intends to make those few weeks very difficult for the whalers.

The Fukuyoshi Maru No. 68 with their contingent of Keystone Japanese Coast Guardsmen keeps tailing us, and they keep relaying our position to the Japanese, preventing us from closing on in them. But it works for us – just so long as they keep moving they are not killing whales.

Today the Fukuyoshi Maru No. 68 came in close behind us in the fog. They were within a half a mile when 1st Officer Peter Brown pulled a “Crazy Ivan” by coming around 180 degrees heading straight for them – bow to bow.  The Fukuyoshi Maru No. 68 immediately turned and ran back to wherever it was coming from. The Steve Irwin resumed our course and the Fukuyoshi Maru No. 68 stayed behind at a respectful 6.2 nautical miles for the rest of the day.

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February 26, 2008

by Captain Paul Watson
On Board the Sea Shepherd ship Steve Irwin

The Chase Continues - Day Four

“Crikey, danger, danger, you whalers, the Shepherds are coming”
- What Steve would say if he were with us

We’ve been on the tail of the Japanese whaling fleet for 96 hours since finding them near the Shackleton Glacier on the Queen Mary Coast of Wilkes Land.

As we pursue the Japanese whalers, the Japanese Coast Guard on the Fukuyoshi Maru No. 68 continues to tail our ship the Steve Irwin.                                      

The weather has broken temporarily and treated us to calm seas and sunny skies but another storm is sneaking up on our stern with the promise of all hell breaking loose within the next day.

The Japanese whalers have turned South heading towards Vincennes Bay between the Budd Coast and Knox Coast of Wilkes Land.

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February 25, 2008

by Captain Paul Watson
On Board the Sea Shepherd ship Steve Irwin

The Chase Continues - Day Three

Today we are plowing through the roughest seas we have experienced in the almost three months we have been down in the Southern Ocean. The weather will be getting worse as the continent of Antarctica braces itself for the long dark and bitterly cold winter ahead of it.

As one storm races over us, another is creeping up behind us from the West.

We love this weather! A combination of these windy seas and our pursuit of the Japanese whaling fleet translates into no whales killed. This is the third day that the whales have been spared the bloody horror of the Japanese harpoons.

As the bow of the Steve Irwin rises up on a swell and then hammers down into a trough, the cold water explodes in white anger over the decks and splashes heavily against the wheelhouse windows. The ship shudders and shakes, rolls and pitches and pushes onward and forward.

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February 24, 2008

by Captain Paul Watson
On Board the Sea Shepherd ship Steve Irwin

The Great Southern Ocean Chase - Day Two

It’s hard to kill whales when you’re running with your tail between your legs and the Japanese whaling fleet is running, north then west, then east, then west, then east again trying to throw the Sea Shepherd ship Steve Irwin off their rear-ends.

But our electronic teeth are firmly embedded in their rear stern ends and they are not shaking us loose. When they turn, we turn, and where they flee to, we pursue. If they stop we will be on their backs like fleas on a dog.

The seas down here are constantly changing from calm to whitecaps, to heavy swells and the visibility goes from crystal clear to foggy from moment to moment. The sun shines and then without warning sleet and snow lash out at the ship and an hour later the sun is shining once again. The sky fades from blue to grey to white then to blue again.

The sea is full of icebergs and hazardous semi submerged rock hard growlers. The icebergs are dangerously beautiful unique ice sculptures ranging from alabaster white to cobalt blue and emerald green.

In the sea are whales and penguins and in the frigid air are majestic albatross and petrels. We are not alone out here. We’ve seen Humpbacks and Piked whales, Fin Whales and Blue Whales, Sperm Whales and Orcas.

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February 19, 2008

by Captain Paul Watson
On Board the Sea Shepherd ship Steve Irwin

Rolling Down To the Coast of Antarctica

The Sea Shepherd Conservation Society ship Steve Irwin is making good time as we head towards the coast of Antarctica.

Since departing Melbourne on the 14th of February, the weather has been incredibly pleasant. Looking at the weather charts it appears as if divine providence was parting the storms to let us have safe and quick passage through the Roaring Forties and the Furious Fifties.

Calm seas with the constant company of albatross and petrels and the occasional visit by whales have the crew happy, motivated and inspired. Of our three voyages South this season, this crew is the most dedicated and courageous of the three, all eager to engage the pirate whalers and willing to take whatever risks that I ask of them.

The Australian Customs and Fisheries Patrol vessel Oceanic Viking has left the Japanese fleet to return to Fremantle. This leaves the Sea Shepherd crew all alone with the Japanese fleet outnumbered eight ships to one.  They have arms, explosive harpoons and a ruthlessness that only whale killing cowards can possess.

We have our love for the whales and the oceans and a courage born of that love.

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February 19, 2008

by Nicola Paris, 3rd Cook

I can’t sleep so I venture out to watch the lights of Australia recede from view.  It’s been very still up until now, but as we leave the bay we start to feel a tiny bit of the ocean swell.  As I head up onto the deck I see the boat come up alongside to take the pilot home.  After guiding us safely out of the bay he smoothly hops onto the boat alongside, suit and tie intact.

It’s wonderful to be finally moving - after a couple of claustrophobic nights in port in my top bunk I am relieved to have some airflow in the cabin.  First obstacle over… the next is to actually make my body learn to sleep on a rocking ship.  And seasickness… none. Yeehar. I decided I wasn’t going to be seasick and it worked, or I got lucky…luckier than some anyway.

I’m enjoying watching the waves roll past the galley porthole… having never been to sea its still a novel experience to look out and not be able to sight any land.  Quite freeing actually. I can’t think of anywhere else I’d rather be right now.

The galley is a new challenge - lots of little changes in thinking for such a journey… minimizing use of water; making the best use of the food on hand before it spoils; making sure everything is secure so we don’t get knocked out by flying condiments or knives as the swells pick up. Death by soy sauce would be kind of embarrassing really.

First emergency drill happened today… the immersion suits are pretty full on…its like wearing a Michelin man suit lined with a sleeping bag with moon boots built in, and squid hands. Sweet.

It’s getting colder, and is light for much longer - changing daily… we are not far away from 24 hour daylight apparently.  I got to make breakfast for the first time…corn fritters… it feels quite comfortable to get up early and potter around in the kitchen in the early morning… and feed people as they walk into their day.

We have a few more days before we hit the area we are aiming for; and to do what we came for.  Hopefully I will have slept by then… and won’t have been taken out by rogue condiments.

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January 20, 2008

by 2nd Officer Peter Hammarstedt

Greenpeace’s Broken Record - a response to Karli onboard the Esperanza.

But a day ago, Karli Thomas onboard the Esperanza took another call from me and another attempt at extending the olive branch of cooperation was slapped away. Through the bureaucratic static came the sound of her broken record that keeps playing the same tune – ‘we differ on our views on non-violent direct action’.  I asked Karli if she was aware of our thirty year history of never causing an injury, certainly not a death, on either side of the whaling wars. She was. But the broken record kept on turning - despite the fact that we’d been sending the coordinates of the whaling fleet to Jonah Fisher onboard the Esperanza for the past week.

When is targeting property used to kill, especially when it is illegal property, a violent act? Surely, if someone has a rifle, and they’re about to shoot somebody, a human or otherwise, and I tear that rifle out of their hand and break it across my knee, that is an act of non-violence. Allowing that person to pull the trigger would be violent; it would be complicity in that act of violence. Since the day I joined Sea Shepherd, I’ve refused to be complacent to any act of violence by remaining passive.

If I walked by a person beating a dog in my native city of Stockholm, I would put an immediate stop to it - and make sure that that person never touch another animal again. If I heard a situation of domestic violence occur in my apartment complex, I would break down that person’s door and get involved (the Steve Irwin crew calls me ‘the Hammer’, and although I only weigh in at about 135 lbs and doubt my physical ability to do it, I’d still break my shoulder trying). So why should my reaction to illegal whaling be any different?

A whaling vessel is incapable of suffering. But a whale feels pain as intensely as you or I - especially if an explosive-tipped harpoon enters their soft white flesh, shredding their gargantuan organs to pieces before forcing them to suffocate in their own blood. I will never understand how doing everything within one’s power, while not injuring anybody, to stop that cruel slaughter can be labeled violent.

For me, ‘Save the Whales’ isn’t a message that you wear on your sleeve. It isn’t a motto or a slogan painted on a banner or printed on a button – it’s something that you live by, a belief that you reflect by your actions. When Captain Paul Watson was approached by long-time Greenpeace campaigner John Frizell after sinking half of Iceland’s whaling fleet in Rejkavik Harbor in 1986, he was told that the action that eventually led to shutting down Iceland’s illegal whaling operations for one-and-a-half decades was an ‘unforgivable and despicable act.’ Captain Watson turned to him and said, “John, I didn’t sink those ships for you. I didn’t sink them for Greenpeace. I sunk them for the whales. Find me one whale that disagrees with our actions and we’ll stop.” Since that day, our number one concern continues to be representing our clients; the whales, seals, dolphins, sea turtles, and fish of the world’s oceans; the best that we can. The whales come first.
Fundraising comes second.

In The Australian today, Greenpeace Campaigner Sara Holden called the boarding of an illegal whaling vessel by two of our crewmembers nothing more than a ‘distraction’. When can the biggest story about Japanese whaling to ever hit the world news wire ever be called a ‘distraction’? Only when it conflicts with another environmental group’s fundraising programs.

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January 17, 2008

by Captain Paul Watson
On Board the Sea Shepherd ship Steve Irwin

The Australian Navy may just have to wade in to keep the peace.

The dark waters of the deep Southern Ocean may be icy cold but tensions are heating up under increasing pressures as the ships of the Japanese whaling fleet experience more and more aggravation from the whale defending groups Greenpeace and the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society.

The morning of January 17th, 2008 witnessed the Sea Shepherd ship Steve Irwin in hot pursuit of five vessels of the Japanese whaling fleet. In front of the Sea Shepherd ship is the supply vessel Oriental Bluebird being escorted by the whaling vessels Kaiko Maru,  Kyoshin Maru No. 2, and Yushin Maru. All four vessels are heading east.

To the south of the Steve Irwin heading eastward, also on a parallel course, is a fifth Japanese vessel, the Yushin Maru No. 2 with two Sea Shepherd hostages onboard.

The Steve Irwin is keeping track of the movements of the surrounding Japanese whalers by radar and regular helicopter surveillance flights. All these ships are in the area along the 60 degree Southern line of latitude and 80 degree Eastern Longitude. This is about 2130 nautical miles Southwest of Fremantle, Western Australia.

Behind this small flotilla of ships at a distance of nearly 600 miles is the Japanese Factory ship the Nisshin Maru shadowed by the Greenpeace ship Esperanza. Both these ships are heading directly for the Steve Irwin and all the ships of the Japanese whaling fleet.  

Within two to three days all of these ships may be in one spot and it is an area outside of the boundaries of the whale killing grounds, deep in international waters where the laws are slipperier than the fish swimming below.

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January 10, 2008

by Kim McCoy (Executive Director)

Being on board the Steve Irwin during this pivotal moment in time on our planet, hunting for the ruthless killers of innocent whales in an internationally recognized whale sanctuary, is nothing short of life altering. As we prepare for an imminent encounter with the Japanese whaling fleet, I draw tremendous inspiration from the passionate leadership of Captain Watson and the bravery and dedication of our volunteer crew. We pass the days by keeping ourselves occupied conducting safety drills, reviewing emergency protocol, discussing tactics, and exploring potential scenarios. We practice launching zodiacs, we fly our helicopter in periodic search patterns, and we wait, holding our collective breath in anticipation of what lies ahead.

As a Quartermaster, I work on the bridge and spend most of my time scanning both the horizon and the radar screen for icebergs, ships, and anything else with which we do not wish to collide. But I also watch for whales, the truest givers of hope. Words simply cannot describe the power of such encounters to invoke passion and motivation among our crew. These whales serve as our guides and keep us focused on our mission. Without them, we would be lost. And I, for one, cannot bear to even imagine a world without whales.

It is maddening to think that as I stand on watch, responsible not only for the safety of our crew, but also for the safety of these whales, someone just like me is standing watch at that very moment on the bridge of a Japanese whaling vessel, scanning the same ocean, watching for the same things as me, pondering the curious absence of darkness at the midnight hour, perhaps even thinking the same kinds of deep thoughts in this vast expanse of endless blue.

Are we really so different? We would both change course to go around an iceberg. We both check the weather forecasts daily and chart our progress on maps. We likely both enjoy warming our cold fingers on a hot cup of tea and have loved ones at home whom we miss while we are at sea. And we would both rejoice upon sighting a pod of whales, then promptly pick up the phone to alert our fellow crew members.

The difference is that when my crew runs to the bow of our ship to see the whales, we will shoot only with cameras, inflicting no wounds, reveling in the magic of the moment, while the whalers will fire explosive harpoons that shred internal organs and lead to a violent and agonizing death, with whales fighting fiercely against mind-shattering pain and ultimately drowning in a sea of their own blood. The difference is that we rejoice at having seen a whale just for the sake of having shared that brief moment in time with an animal so magnificent, while the whalers envision yen signs and, inspired by greed, rejoice at the thought of money filling their pockets.

How the world can turn a blind eye to such an atrocity is truly beyond my comprehension. Because the governments of countless nations have failed to do their  jobs, it has been left it in our hands — the hands of a few dozen  untrained volunteers — to enforce not only what is morally right, but what has been formally codified into international law through multiple treaties and conventions. This is an utter disgrace and makes a profound statement about the misplaced priorities of our species, but we are up to the challenge.

As we draw nearer and nearer to the whaling fleet, excitement runs high, and we all feel a heightened sense of responsibility. I believe that as we sail alone at the bottom of the world, having not seen another ship since we departed from Melbourne, it is heavy on everyone's minds that we are literally the only people out of billions on this planet who are actually willing to place ourselves in harm's way to protect the whales in these waters. This is a large burden to bear, but it helps tremendously to know that we have such strong support from compassionate individuals around the world. We carry with us the hopes and good wishes of many and find great courage and conviction in your support.

To my friends and family back home, and to everyone who supports us in this endeavor, please know that we will do everything within our power to accomplish our mission, and when we shut down the whaling fleet again this year, we will smile and think of you, and of the whales.

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January 8, 2008

by Captain Paul Watson

The Impossible Mission Continues

On the ragged edge of the world I'll roam And the home of the whale shall be my home And saving seals on the remote ice and snows The end of my voyage... who knows, who knows?

The Sea Shepherd Conservation Society is in the middle of what is rapidly becoming an impossible mission.

The Sea Shepherd ship Steve Irwin is presently off the coast of Antarctic searching for the Japanese whaling fleet.

The cards are stacked against us in this pursuit but we will continue on for as long as our fuel reserves allow us to do so.

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January 5, 2008

by Sean Willmore

As the ship rocks back and forwards in a Southern ocean's schizophrenic swell, I've gotta ask myself "What am I doing here?" I nearly didn't come on board for various reasons, but something kept nagging at me and here I am.

The answer is I suppose is easy - I'm here to help prevent the slaughter of whales in an international sanctuary. But there's more to it than that.

Here we are heading south with a group of dedicated volunteers, some experienced and many not. We're in a ship that's doing its best and the resources are limited.

Why is it left up to volunteers to risk their lives to uphold international law? Why does Sea Shepherd have to gather resources every year and rely on volunteer help, when the majority of the well trained Navies around the world lie idle protecting other interests. Surely they could be put to greater use, protecting our planet . Same goes for all the armies. Imagine if we used their resources to protect endangered wildlife everywhere! So it really needs all of the community to let their politicians know that this is important to them and they expect them to take direct action. The Japanese Whalers are taking 50 endangered Fin whales and 1000 Minkes. Imagine if some poachers crept into a black rhino reserve or tiger reserve and each year took 50 of these endangered animals in the name of "research!" We would all demand governments do something about it.

I've worked professionally in conservation for over 10 years as Park Ranger, and this is certainly outside the confines I'm use to. I've been in risky situations along with my ranger colleagues around the world especially when making The Thin Green Line, on the frontline of conservation in many countries. But this time I'm out in the open ocean with a group of dedicated volunteers, and some experienced professional mariners.

I'm not a mariner-(although I'm glad to be holding up ok to the motion of the ocean) but I do hope I can bring some skills and experience to the ship and help everyone with the objective of saving these whales and getting everyone home safely.

I have a photo of my 5 nephews in my cabin. I hope they're proud of their uncle Sean, because I know they would all want some one to come down here to stop the killing of these whales, if the politicians of the world won't do anything more than take photos and have diplomatic discussions. It's been going on for far to long. Hopefully next year there won't be a need for volunteers to risk their lives in the expanse of the southern ocean. Hopefully an end is in sight to the killing of these magnificent creatures. Hopefully I'll be playing with my nephews this time next year instead of being out here chasing illegal whalers. Hopefully.

December 26, 2007

by Brad Axiak (Helicopter Technician) and Carly McDermott (Quartermaster)

Setbacks. As you are all probably aware by now, we are back in Melbourne. Although frustrating, it will mean our ship will be operating at maximum efficiency when we head back down to Antarctica to achieve our objective. The general feeling amongst the crew is of a positive nature and has made us even more determined.

When reflecting on our journey and preparation thus far, there have been many individuals who have helped and supported us in getting where we are today. Although we, the crew, are at the sharp end of direct action, the people behind the scenes can often go unnoticed- their role is just as critical for the intended success of the operation.

To the Sea Shepherd staff/volunteers- thank you for all your many hours of hard work, logistical preparations and dedication, in making the impossible possible.

To all our supporters and those who have visited our ship- thank you for your donations and well wishes for our campaign. The raising of public awareness is the cornerstone of our struggle and where any worthwhile mission begins.

To our friends and family- thank you for your unconditional love and support. Through good and bad, you are always in our hearts.

To our partners-Thank you for your love, patience and many sacrifices. Whether we sail in the calmest of waters or a raging tempest, you have been the rock of our crusade.

We would like to extend our sincere thanks and gratitude to you all.

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December 25, 2007

by Captain Paul Watson

Christmas on the Steve Irwin

It is Christmas day and I am not where I wish us to be.

Where I wish to be is two thousand kilometers to the Southwest where the outlaw whaling fleet from Japan is savagely massacring endangered whales in the Southern Ocean Sanctuary.

Unfortunately my ship is riding anchor just offshore of Williamstown , Victoria in Australia . We have picked up the spare parts that we ordered from Scotland and they are being installed in our damaged Port engine. By Boxing Day the ship will be restored to 100% efficiency.

On the morning of December 27 th we will at berth for a few hours in Melbourne to take on another load of fuel to extend our range.

It is a frustrating delay but over the years I have come to expect the unexpected and I have learned to deal with disappointments and emergencies.

It is fitting that we are presently anchored near Williamstown.

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December 19, 2007

by Captain Paul Watson

Operation Migaloo is already a success

Although the Sea Shepherd ship Steve Irwin has not yet located the Japanese whaling fleet, it is obvious that Operation Migaloo is having an impact.

The issue of illegal Japanese whaling is receiving international attention around the world. Most importantly for the first time ever, the story is being reported in the Japanese media and the Japanese people are becoming more aware of their government's illegal activities.

The media in Australia and New Zealand are not just reporting the issue, they are also running scathing editorials against Japanese whaling activities.

And media coverage translate into public awareness and public awareness translates into political pressure and the new Australian Labor government under Prime Minister Kevin Rudd is taking a much more aggressive position in opposition to whaling then the previous Liberal government of former Prime Minister John Howard.

It has been a long hard campaign for Sea Shepherd. This is our fourth expedition to the Southern Ocean Whale Sanctuary. We began this effort with the 2002/2003 campaign with the Farley Mowat and returned 2005/2006 with a helicopter. Operation Leviathan saw Sea Shepherd bring two ships to the Ross Sea , the return of the Farley Mowat for the third time and the first voyage of the Robert Hunter . For Operation Migaloo, the Robert Hunter's name has been changed to the Steve Irwin to reflect the late Crocodile Hunter's concerns for stopping the Japanese pirate whalers.

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December 16, 2007

by Mihirangi

Aboard The Steve Irwin 1500hrs Sunday 16th of December 2007

Up at 7:40am, my cabin is cold, ice circles the rim of my porthole, a blanket of fog surrounds the ship and finally I've acclimatized to the waves that either rock me to sleep or slap me silly against my bunk like Possidon's plaything. This morning I literally tumble out of bed and as we pitch and roll I focus on the pretence of having sea legs. toss, throw, fall, toss, roll, stagger, stagger and crawl just to put on my crew shirt and beanie. Bloody hilarious. minimum grooming with maximum effort achieved I step crisscross and crazy up the stairs to do a four-hour bridge watch.

We have long since sailed through the eerie fog of the Antarctic convergence to the furthest most southern part of this beautiful Earth to the ice-laden coast of Antarctica. There are forty of us from ten different countries aboard this 180 foot black pirate ship, warm on the inside, steel cold on the out. It feels so good to be alive, to be on this journey, to be here with this eclectic bunch. what an awesome crew and captain, I can't help but be proud.

Each day is a day closer to finding the Japanese fleet with a whole crew of determination, guts and tenacity; our ultimate goal is to shut down their operation completely. We are searching. stalking the Antarctic coast of ice-shelves, pack-ice, ice-fields, ice-floes, ice-burgs, ice-cakes, pancakes, shuga, growlers and bergy-bits (I'm now the ships ice expert. been studying). We are here for as long as it takes to fulfill our mission.

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December 15, 2007

by Giles Lane (Engine Room)

Pirate greetings to all of you from the wild and beautiful Southern Ocean! This is my first time at sea, my first Sea Shepherd campaign, and my first blog entry.

Now I've started to settle into the ships routine, the last day or so has given me a chance to think about the month or so since I left England to join the campaign. I joined the ship and crew in Tasmania , just in time for the voyage to the mainland, where the support shown to us by the people of Melbourne was quite incredible. The days leaving up to our departure saw a constant stream of visitors bringing us food, tools, money and best wishes for our mission.

After leaving Melbourne , and with no prior engineering knowledge, my job of working in the engine room was an intimidating start to the campaign. Luckily I've joined a fantastic and supportive team down in the bowels of the ship, and we've had no trouble keeping everything running smoothly and efficiently down there. Having never been to sea before, sea sickness was a concern for me, but I have escaped the clutches of that particular demon at least for the time being!

The ship's crew is a motivated and uncompromising bunch! We differ in nationalities, backgrounds and politics; yet we are all united in our determination to stop the whaling down here by any means necessary.

Personally, I'm not motivated by an abstract or reformist concern to save innocent or intelligent creatures, but by a radical ecological desire to halt the destruction of the earth that's being undertaken by the forces of corporate and state power - and stopping the whaling down here is one important and very winnable battle in that war.

Coming down here on the ship to confront the whalers at the point of destruction is important - but it is not all that needs to be done. It is just not physically possible for everybody to come down to join the fight here, but it is possible for you all to play an important part in ending this murderous destruction. Do some research on the forces behind the whaling; find a weak point, a crack in the system apply pressure in whatever way you feel comfortable with and play a part in their destruction!

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December 13, 2007

by Peter Hammarstedt (2nd Mate)

Why I fight

Being out at sea has always given me the opportunity to reflect on the twists and turns in my life that brought me to a stage where I could safely say that I would risk my life to save that of a whale. My expedition to Antarctica essentially began a decade ago.

When I was 14, I met a dog named Marlboro through the chain-linked fencing of an animal shelter housing pen. No words were exchanged. But his deep brown eyes met mine and there was instantly nothing more important to me than finding this Akita/Cattle dog a loving home. Marlboro never said a word, neither a bark nor a whimper escaped his lips for the duration of his two month stay, but he spoke volumes about the way our society views animals - not as feeling, thinking unique individuals, but as disposable things. Marlboro was named after a tobacco company. I called him my best friend.

For an entire summer, we tried to make the best of the cards that Marlboro had been dealt. Every morning for two months, the concrete floor turned to mud and grass and steel fencing crumbled to a sun that kept us playing around the large oak tree that marked the end of the property for the better part of each day. From that oak tree, the kennels seemed far away.

One Saturday morning, I came in to find Marlboro's cage empty. He'd been moved. But not to the wide expanse of a country home that I'd dreamed up for him, but to a set of cages down the road referred to as death row. Marlboro had inadvertently bit a volunteer. And because of that, he was condemned to die. The day before he was put down was the first time that Marlboro ever spoke to me. As I said my last goodbyes and turned to walk away, my quiet friend let out a howl and threw the entire weight of his body against the cage door. I ran home crying, feeling helpless. The next day, a Rottweiler named Holly stood in Marlboro's old cell. She found a home one month later.

Marlboro taught me more than any other individual I've ever come across. He would help set the course of the rest of my life and because of that, I am forever in his debt. Marlboro taught me that every single animal, human and non-human alike, is a completely unique individual. Until the end of time, there will never be anyone else exactly like you. Or exactly like me. Or exactly like Marlboro. A pod of whales is a collection of distinct unique personalities. For me that has always been one of the most powerful arguments for animal rights. That we have more in common than separate us. That's what my best four-legged friend taught me many years ago - that animals are worth fighting for.

The day that I ran from the caged rows that separated Marlboro from the rest of the canine population, I made a promise - that never again, when put in the position to save animal life here and now, would I turn my back. Sea Shepherd allows me the opportunity to keep the promise that I made almost a decade ago, every day of my life. Now I find myself in Antarctica for a third time, hoping to find the Japanese whaling fleet as early as possible in their season; not just because 50 endangered humpback whales are now slated for the harpoon, but so that Marlboro would understand that not for a single day, has he been forgotten.

December 10, 2007

by Joie Botkin (USA) Still Photographer

Well, it's our fifth day out at sea and the weather has finally calmed down, giving much of the crew a dearly needed reprieve from sea-sickness and the continuous lurching about. Our send-off in Melbourne was phenomenal, as was the generous support in donations and volunteers' time that we received up until our departure. Being new to Sea Shepherd, I was amazed to see the community support and encouragement that we received. It really seems that, despite our occasional critic, we are viewed as a beacon of light in the conservation movement and truly supported by our dedicated members.

And now we're at sea, and I realize that a boat at port and a boat in the middle of the Southern ocean are two very different boats. I've found out that I don't get seasick and that I'm one of the lucky ones.

But as the bad weather passed (or so I hope), so too did the sea sickness. Everyone's now up and about, and the Steve Irwin is quickly returning to being a well-oiled machine. On the bridge, courses are being plotted as veteran seafarers take every opportunity to scare newbies about the bad weather (and icebergs) yet to come. In the galley, food donations have finally been stored away. And of course, we all come together three (or so) times a day to eat our meals, laugh, and feign some semblance of sanity. And so we continue our journey southbound, hoping to cut off the fleet before they can enter the sanctuary. Spirits are high, and anticipation higher. No-one knows what will be next.

December 9, 2007

by Heather Reid (Australia) Deckhand/Galley and
Simon King (Australia) Deck/ Fire Team/ Medical Response Team

Hey! It's Heather and Simon

It's the 9th of December, day 4 of sailing. Simon feels that he has conquered seasickness but he is still adjusting to sleeping at sea! Myself still rather sea sick but well enough to take on jobs for the people that are still unfortunately in bed. I've waited 8 months to get the ship down to Antarctica and pulled through the hard times sitting in dock doing tours and getting the ship ready for campaign. Putting seasickness behind I'm still able to giggle and joke around. I'm so happy to be sailing down to the south with a great crew. Simon is stoked to be spending his university break aboard the Steve Irwin . The highlight so far has been seeing pods of dolphins swimming on the bow wave. Simon saw 'like three hundred' but there were really only about 15!! Simon and myself will be updating the blog when we're not participating in actions, fulfilling ship duties, pondering life on the exercise deck or feasting on vegan cuisine. So keep checking the website for our blog updates. Cheers - Reidy and Sim.

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