Stu Blue California

Unfair and Unbalanced


Monday, April 24, 2006

This is Righteous!

Meaning "Cool" or "Amazing" or
"The kind of thing that makes an Environmentalist's heart sing!"

While Greenpeace watches and waits to no particular effect, these guys move in close and try to disable the whaler's ships any way they can, risking their lives over and over.

First read the article at National Geographic Adventure Online.

Then watch the video montage they made of the events in the article.

Then read this recent update on the Japanese whaling fleet!

Here's an excerpt:
The Sea Shepherd's courage and rashness began to dawn on me. Watson was taking this rusting hulk into the most dangerous, remote seas on Earth to wage a kind of war. A place where a man overboard had minutes to live. Half of his troops had no training at all. Before leaving, his only plan for finding the Japanese whaling fleet in the vast Southern Ocean was to run helicopter reconnaissance flights and hope crews supplying the various Antarctic research stations would give him intel. Contact with Greenpeace's two pursuit ships was the best hope, but the organization responded to Watson's repeated pleas for cooperation by keeping its ships' coordinates off its Web site. Watson believed it was a deliberate attempt to foil him and his radical methods.

What Greenpeace wasn't counting on was that some of the rank and file onboard their ships were also frustrated and disgusted by what they were witnessing every day. The killing of a whale by the most modern methods is cruel beyond description. An exploding harpoon, meant to kill quickly, rarely does more than rupture the whale's organs. The animal thrashes and gushes blood and begins to drown in its own hemorrhage. It is winched to the side of the harpoon ship, a probe is jabbed into it, and thousands of volts of electricity are run through the animal in an attempt to kill it faster. The whale screams and cries and thrashes. If it is a mother, its calf swims wildly beside her, doomed to its own motherless death later on. Often the electricity fails to dispatch the whale, so it takes 15 to 20 minutes of this torture before it drowns and dies. No matter what one thinks of whales' high intelligence, the advanced social structures, the obvious emotions, and the still mysterious ability to communicate over long distances, this method of slaughter would not be allowed as standard practice in any slaughterhouse in the world. This is what the Greenpeace crew had been watching day after day and were constrained from stopping. One of the crew had had enough and began to e-mail Watson with sporadic updates of the fleet's position.

This is how Watson knew, within a few thousand square miles, where the fleet might be on Christmas morning.

A few minutes later we saw it. Through the mist the huge bulk of the factory ship. First just a dark shape, then the spillway ramp cut into her stern where they winched up the dead whales, the tall white superstructure of her cranes, and the words Nisshin Maru, Tokyo. Running down the length of her hull, visible when she corkscrewed on a swell, was research, in large block letters.

She was a sitting duck. Almost idling at 6.8 knots, riding it out. They had to have seen us moving up on the radar, but they must've figured we were the Arctic Sunrise, Greenpeace's other boat, a matter of no concern. Nobody had even bothered to look. I couldn't believe it. We were pulling alongside her stern.

Cornelissen, at the helm, looked level at his captain. "Do we want to ram them? Punch a few holes in their ship?"

"No, we'd sustain a lot of damage. I think the best tactic here, Alex, is the prop foulers." Watson said he didn't think the Nisshin could go too much faster in these seas. He wanted to cut across her bow and deploy the prop foulers—long strands of rope, steel cables, and buoys that would slip under her hull and catch and tangle her propeller.

"We could ram her up the spillway if you want. What do you say, Paul?"

"No, we're gonna do this."

He turned to VanDerGulik. "Tell them to get the prop foulers ready on the stern. Tell them to stay down, stay hidden. Don't deploy them until I blow the horn."

I looked at Watson. He seemed to be protecting his crew. No sane person wanted a collision in these seas.

Just then the whalers woke up. I can only imagine how the Farley must have looked materializing out of the fog and mountainous seas: an all-black ship running under a gale-stiffened Jolly Roger. It was as if the Nisshin Maru jumped in surprise. Someone put the hammer down and she began to pull away off our port side.

"OK," Watson said to Cornelissen. "Do it if you can. Up the spillway."

It was too late. VanDerGulik, the first engineer, had the engines tweaked, and the Farley was straining with all she had, 11, 11.6, 12 knots. But the Nisshin was too powerful. She came up to speed and began to flee at 14 knots.

And then her skipper seemed to snap. Captain D. Toyama had been whaling in the Antarctic for decades. He had been harassed for weeks by Greenpeace. Its Zodiacs swarmed his killer boats. His harpooners had shot whales right over their heads. And here, out of the fog, was a ship with a terrifying reputation. He'd had enough. A quarter-mile (half-kilometer) away, I watched in amazement as the Nisshin turned to starboard, angled across our bow, and slowed down. Toyama seemed to be saying, "OK, you wanna mess with me? Bring it on."


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