Retreat in Whale Wars

Last week, Japan announced the cancellation of their whaling, huh, I mean “cetacean research” activities in antarctic for this year. The development was attributed to the constant pestering of the whaling fleet’s main processing vessel, Nissan Maru, by vessels of the environmental group Sea Shepperd Society. But with Australia citing a lack of confirmation by the Japaneses authority, this has lead the Sea Shepperd’s leader, Paul Watson, to question this as a diversion tactic.

The Sea Shepperd’s Antarctic operations have been chronicled, for the last four years, by television cameras in a show called called Whale Wars. The show is one of the most popular shows on Animal Planet, a US based television network. As it turns out, I was just working on a review of Season Three, which aired last year, and that I recently had a chance to watch in its entirety – below are my comments.

Whale Wars Season 3 review

By now most of us mariners, in North America anyways, are familiar with the antics of the crew of Sea Sheppard Society, in the Antarctic anti whaling campaign. Every year, the Japanese operate a fleet of vessels carrying out whaling activities, under the guise of research. In the past two documented seasons of the campaign, we have witnessed some pretty interesting seamanship in the environmentalist’s quest to halt these “research” activities. I personally enjoyed the previous two seasons, so I was looking forward to lay down in my bunk, and watch the “warriors” duke it out at sea.

I don’t know if the crew of Sea Sheppard is getting more skilled at sea, or the show is a bit more polished, but I sense that the overall professionalism displayed is probably better than most would expect. Obviously the drama of the chase is the primary focus of the show, but one has to remember, these are primarily volunteers manning these ships. The interpersonal drama has subsided in this series, with more of an emphasis on the physical assets at the Sea Sheppard’s disposal, and their interaction toward achieving their goals.

Well its pretty hard to ignore since the main tactic in season three, the utilization of two new vessels in the campaign against the Japanese whaling fleet, the MV Addy Gil and the MV Bob Barker. Bob Barker, yes, named after the game show host guy. Captain Watson, the head of the organization, and the Captain of the veteran campaigner MV Steve Irwin, is now elevated to commodore, with a “fleet” at his disposal.

The MV Bob Barker is an old Norwegian Coast Guard Vessel, that is a bit faster than the Steve Irwin, but more importantly, is ice strengthened. Ice is of course a major challenge in the Antarctic, and the Steve Irwin definitely was in precarious waters in the two previous seasons.

The Adi Gill is smaller, but much faster craft. But with speed comes limitations, which ultimately prove fatal for the vessel, midway through the season. As an engineer you might be familiar with the Ady Gill and its previous role as Earth Racer. The vessel successfully sailed around the world burning bio-diesel, and shattering speed record while doing so.

The surprise introduction of the new fleet mates probably made the Japanese cringe considerably, but also made for a fresh new angle on the show. Passionate as he is, there is only so much Paul Watson, I can take.

As with all popular culture, the captain is the main focus of the vessel, but in the case of the Ady Gill, the captain is Paul Bethune, and he certainly comes across as an energetic passionate character – certainly an interesting shipmate, if albeit a bit unpredictable. He brings a welcomed sense of adventure, proudly showing his Kiwi roots.

Like I mentioned above, the show seems to have kicked up the professionalism, whether on the vessels, or in the production of the show, why, I am not sure, but there is a considerable marketing machine involved in this endeavor, so the results are probably starting to materialize in this season. The show is a reality type television program, but nonetheless is used by the Sea Sheppard to advance their cause. So I think we end up seeing less of the “oh my god, they did not just do that” moments, that we were seeing in the first, and second seasons.

Regardless, Whale Wars remains a fast paced action / drama show. Great photography and editing, and this season, not too much personal drama. It remains very popular across north America, and can be found online and coming to DVD in December.

This article has 3 Comments

  1. It's a great show if you like racist lawbreaking rich kids harrassing hard working Japanese fisherman trying to make an honest living. I watched a couple of episodes last season and it was boring as hell. They' re still doing the same bs acid bomb prop.fouling that never works.

  2. What professionalism impressed you the most? The part where they got rheir ship cut in half or the part where they lost their boat because they failed it properly in a storm. Maybe it was the the time they tried to recovef the boat and destroyed the outdrive on the rocky shore. The sea shepperds are mindless sheep their master tells them.

  3. Eheheh, yes "professionalism" might not the be the best word to use. I think what I was getting at is their representation on TV.

    Yes, that boat getting loose was pretty pathethic.

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