Greenpeace Southern Ocean Expedition
Whalers chased out of area.
The Greenpeace vessel MV Arctic Sunrise has been shadowing the Japanese whaling fleet in the Southern Ocean. The crew have been taking every opportunity to engage the whalers and prevent them from catching whales. The whalers have responded by firing freezing Antarctic water at the activists in the inflatables. When that failed to dissuade the protestors the whalers tried to outrun the Greenpeace vessel and hide amongst the icebergs. You can help by sending an e-fax to the Japanese Prime Minister from the Greenpeace website www.greenpeace.org.nz
The latest development is that the whaling fleet has been chased out of the whaling area. Here's an update from Andrew the web editor aboard the MV Arctic Sunrise.
- January 6th -
Around 19.00 last night the blip on our radar that was the first catcher (whale hunting ship) reached 60 degrees south, the northern most edge of the what the whalers have designated as their hunting area. As expected the catcher "bounced" off 60 and headed southeast.
It shortly changed its mind though, or perhaps was reminded by its bosses, that "bouncing" was not part of the plan right now - because it quickly turned around and headed back towards the north. The main whaling fleet, the catchers and the Nisshin Maru (factory ship), went right on through 60 south - headed generally in the direction of India.
We had chased the fleet right out of the whaling area.
Good news indeed, although obviously they haven't left for good. Plus, the early bounce by that one catcher got us thinking. Seemed like their captain had thought they were headed back south.
Maybe the fleet is trying to lure us north - where we would be out of the way - before losing us, and racing back south to catch whales without Greenpeace around. Maybe they are on their way to meet with the refuelling ship (the whaling fleet is refuelled at sea once during the season).
Whatever they are up to, we have plans of our own - so Andy (captain) ordered a course of southeast for the Arctic Sunrise.
That night, during the four to eight watch, Dave (whose instincts have proven uncanny lately) made a discovery. In his own words:
"We saw an iceberg on the radar. There weren't too many of them about, mind you, and I thought: Let's have a look. You might even say I had a feeling about this one. When we got over to the iceberg, I thought, gosh why not just take a look around the other side of it. And, lo and behold - there was the white spotter ship." The spotter ship, the Kyoshin Maru, spends most of its time far ahead of the rest of the whaling fleet - looking for whales and good hunting areas. It's a safe bet that they were quite surprised to have the Arctic Sunrise peek right around their iceberg.
Andy gave the Kyoshin Maru a friendly call on the radio to say hi. As usual they didn't respond. So we followed them for a while, then they followed us for a while, then we followed them for a while. Eventually, we went our separate ways. The Kyoshin Maru doesn't kill whales - so they aren't really why we're here.
Still, it was interesting to happen across them. It makes you wonder, if the rest of the fleet is supposedly headed north then what's the spotter doing down here?
There's more information and ways that you can help on the Greenpeace website http://www.greenpeace.org.nz