The Police Of The Sea
Each year hundreds of whales make the journey up from the Antarctic to Australia’s northern coastal waters to give birth. On occasion, whales can be spotted in Sydney Harbour and along the east coast, sometimes as early as May. Most commonly seen is our friend the Humpback.
Whales have being visiting the harbour for years during the migration season, with hundreds more taking the trip to warmer waters further offshore.
Unfortunately, this warm-blooded mammal continues to be killed by the Japanese in their annual whaling hunt in the Antarctic.
One group who is successfully stopping these illegal and inhumane activities is the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society. As the unofficial ‘police of the sea’ their aim is uphold international law.
For seven consecutive years this almighty group have used ‘direct action’ to stop Japanese whaling.
This year’s Antarctic Whale Defense Campaign, called ‘Mission No Compromise’, was their most successful yet as they forced the whalers to retreat back to Japan in mid-February, a month earlier than intended.
Bondi resident Fiona McCuaig is an Australian wildlife activist who was aboard the famous ‘Bob Barker’ boat that successfully intercepted the Japanese mother ship ‘Nisshin Maru’ in the most recent expedition.
McCuaig described the immense size of the Japanese fleet.
“They have one big factory ship. It’s got 150 factory workers ready to chop up the meat and vacuum pack it ready for when they go back to the biggest fish markets in Tokyo.
“There are also three or four harpoon boats and they kill the whales.”
By stopping the mother ship the whole whaling process is slowed down and becomes very unproductive, a goal that this year’s mission was able to achieve.
“I am so lucky to have been a part of the last two campaigns and it looks like this was the last one… we drove the Japanese whalers home and shut down their fleets entirely. It’s a huge celebration for the world, “ McCuaig said.
Everyone who joins the Sea Shepherd crew does it for his or her passion and concern for our vulnerable marine environment. The job is voluntary and doesn’t come without extreme dangers.
As rescue swimmer and quartermaster aboard the Bob Barker, McCuaig knows all too well how dangerous active campaigning can be. Last year the Japanese fleet destroyed one of three Sea Shepherd boats, the ‘Ady Gil’, by ramming it with their own vessel and splitting it in two. McCuaig witnessed the incident from the Bob Barker vessel.
“It was the scariest moment on the ship. Another crewmember said to ‘put your survival suit on to get in the water. The Ady Gil has been hit, be prepared to pull out dead bodies’.”
Due to the Sea Shepherd’s constant interference, the Japanese have continuously lost profit each year.
“They (Japan) go down there and they try to kill 1030 whales. This year they only got 172,” explained McCuaig.
After talking to this wildlife activist I can see her passion is genuine and relentless.
Hopefully the Japanese have now surrendered their whaling rampage for good. However, the Sea Shepherd Society’s work does not end there.
McCuaig said the best way to support their campaign is to learn about what is happening in the oceans and join the Sea Shepherd Facebook page.
She also stressed that “people need to ask where their food comes from and start eating ethically”.
So keep an eye on the ocean this winter as the whales head north and if you’re lucky enough to spot one, be thankful for the work of the Sea Shepherd.