Established in 1977, Sea Shepherd Conservation Society (SSCS) is an international non-profit, marine wildlife conservation organization.
From SSCS website: “Our mission is to end the destruction of habitat and slaughter of wildlife in the world’s oceans in order to conserve and protect ecosystems and species.”
Sea Shepherd protects more than whales, their campaigns include saving dolphins, bluefin tuna, sharks, seals, sea lions and reefs in their efforts to prevent extinction and inhumane treatment to those life forms that exist in our world’s oceans.
Their latest campaign, known as “Operation Relentless,” was one of their most successful to date in their efforts to save the minke whales that migrate to the southern ocean near Antarctica.
“Sea Shepherd is proud to announce that the Japanese whaling fleet has left the waters of the Antarctic Treaty Zone (ATZ), ending whale poaching in the Southern Ocean Whale Sanctuary for this year,” boast the Sea Shepherds.
The SSCS’s ships, the Bob Barker and Steve Erwin, docked in Wellington and Hobart Saturday after 94 days at sea, ending the group’s 10th annual intimidation and harassment campaign of the Japanese harpoon fleet.
Sea Shepherd said this year’s campaign, which began on January 5, had been it’s longest ever in the Southern Ocean.
This is their tenth year in the southern oceans protecting whales, and in that time, their activism has saved approximately 4,500 minke whales. The whales are supposed to be protected from harm in the sanctuary in this part of the world. However, Japanese whalers have ‘broken the rules’ by insisting they are killing whales for research purposes. In reality they are poaching illegally and if not for Sea Shepherd, the numbers of whales killed would have been much higher.
This operation alone was said to have saved over 750 whales, which although sounds like a successful number, the Japanese still managed to kill over 200 whales. And although that seems like a lot, their goal of over 1,000 minke whales was not reached.
The fleet has grown since the first years of anti-whaling campaigns, and now includes the Steve Erwin, the Bob Barker (named after the game show host who financed the ship) and the San Simon. Each ship has a captain and crew that spend months out at sea in extremely severe weather and freezing temps. They fight insurmountable odds with the much better equipped Japanese whaling fleet, and risk their lives every day to save the beloved whales.
Captain Peter Hammarstedt of The Bob Barker said, “The late departure of the whaling fleet is a testament to the fact that they have been delivered a disastrous season by the hand of Sea Shepherd, willing to push into the second week of March despite deteriorating weather conditions rather than face our fleet. Before we started this campaign, we made a promise to our clients, the whales, and to all of our supporters around the world to drive these poachers out of the whales’ waters. We have kept that promise. We are relentless.”
Captain of The Steve Irwin, Siddharth Chakravarty, said, “Using their aggression the poachers ran, but they could not hide from us. This is the longest that the Sea Shepherd Fleet has ever remained in the Southern Ocean, as the whalers desperately tried to make up for profits lost due to Sea Shepherd’s direct intervention. After 94 days at sea, I am honoured to return to port at the helm of The Steve Irwin and am deeply proud to be a part of this organisation, vigilant in our defense of life in our oceans, relentless in our pursuit of justice for the whales.”
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