Greenpeace Images & Blog: Mercy Shot
Today ended with a sad and bizarre scene. At first we thought they had missed. Both of our boats were caught far out of position - on the whaler's starboard (right), while the whale was to port (left) and ahead. Then the Hughie (heli pilot) reported blood in the water. A huge amount of blood. The whale had been hit. It was mortally wounded, but for the first time we have seen the harpoon had not set. Our boats fell to the back of the Yushin Maru No. 2, well out of its way - hoping the whalers would end the animal's suffering.
It is an unpleasant oddity, this moment when Greenpeace activists and the whalers want the same thing...the end of a whale's life. We put our boats in the way, we put our safety on the line, we endure freezing cold spray and brutal conditions to protect whales. But after the harpoon hits home, it is only a matter of ending the poor thing's pain. We often see that taking minutes - sometimes five, sometimes ten, sometimes longer. This time it took roughly half an hour.
The whalers reloaded the harpoon and took a second shot. A miss. Then the whale slipped away from all of us. The whalers, our helicopter, everyone. We knew it was dying, in pain and barely able to swim. Another whaling vessel, the Kyo Maru, came to look for it. For a brief twisted period we found ourselves on the same side, both Greenpeace and whalers working together - maybe for different reasons, but I would like to think that they also regretted the animal's pain.
At one point, the whale was seen off our starboard side. Frank (captain) actually called the whalers on the radio to tell them (in no uncertain terms) where to find it, and to finish it.
Well over twenty-five minutes after the first shot we heard the third harpoon, and then saw the man with the rifle fire from the Yushin's deck, finally putting the whale to rest.