Sea Shepherds trying to catch whalers
From ANIMAL PEOPLE, January/February 2010:
HOBART–The Sea Shepherd Conservation Society flagship Steve
Irwin returned to Antarctic waters on December 31, 2009, after a
60-hour resupply and refueling stop in Hobart, Tasmania.
Tailed and harried by the Japanese harpoon ship Shanan Maru
#2, the Steve Irwin and the high-speed trimaran Ady Gil failed to
locate the factory ship Nisshin Maru and the whale-catchers Yushin
Maru #2 and #3 during the first six weeks of the self-declared
five-month Japanese “research whaling” season. The whalers hope to
kill nearly 1,000 whales this winter, but have fallen far short of
their quota in each of the past three winters.
The Sea Shepherds were optimistic after the Shanan Maru #2
returned to the rest of the fleet to meet a refueling vessel and was
seen by yachters who reported its position.
Pre-Christmas skirmishes between the Sea Shepherds and the
Shanan Maru #2 reportedly included exchanges of blasts from water
cannon, some near-collisions, an incident in which Sea Shepherd
crew members allegedly pelted the Shanan Maru #2 with paint gun
pellets, and several incidents in which the crew of the Shanan Maru
#2 used Long Range Accoustic Devices against the Sea Shepherd vessels
and the Steve Irwin’s helicopter.
Launched as Earthrace, the bio-diesel-fueled Ady Gil
circumnavigated the world in just under 61 days in 2007, breaking
the previous record for powered vessels by 13 days, but falling 11
days short of the overall record set in 2005 by the sail-powered
catamaran Orange II. A series of breakdowns and a collision with a
fishing vessel off Guatemala that killed a member of the fishing crew
may have cost Earthrace the overall record. A 10-day investigation
determined that the fishing vessel was at fault.
Earthrace, owned and piloted by Pete Bethune, was renamed
for the 2009-2010 anti-whaling campaign in honor of Hollywood
investor Ady Gil, who funded the voyage.
“We have modified it a bit to make it more suited for the
Southern Ocean,” Bethune told Charles Waterhouse of the Hobart
Mercury, “but in no way is it an ice vessel. We have added about
half a ton of Kevlar, which toughens the hull a bit, and will make
it more resilient to little smacks of ice.”