Whale Wars, Season 3

Series: Whale Wars, Season 3

Whale Wars, Season 3
Whale Wars, Season 3

It was interesting to watch this series, which was filmed in 2010, in the light of the March 2014 International Court of Justice (ICJ) ruling that Japan’s so-called scientific whaling program (which entails killing 900 whales per year) is a thinly disguised commercial whaling venture and ordered the Japanese to stop. Southern Fried Science has demystified the ruling for us. This would remove the need for Sea Shepherd to send ships down to the Southern Ocean (so, no more Whale Wars).

(For a depressing reality-check on just how seriously the Japanese plan to take the ruling, however, check out this news item. I think we might have a few more years of Whale Wars ahead of us.)

The Sea Shepherds have three vessels at their disposal in this season of the show (we have seen Season 1 and Season 2). Their original ship, the Steve Irwin, is still running, but the fleet is strengthened by the addition of the Bob Barker (donated by the comedian of that name) and the Ady Gil, a carbon and kevlar fibre racing trimaran that was built to set speed records. We enjoyed seeing two additional captains at work, with quite different management styles to Paul Watson, who repeatedly proves that one doesn’t need to be a nice guy or a people pleaser to get results.

The additional ships enable Sea Shepherd to manoeuvre against the Japanese with more sophistication than in previous years, and the Ady Gil in particular is used to distract the Japanese vessels with close-quarters engagements. The vulnerable Ady Gil is eventually sliced in half by one of the Japanese ships, and her crew are rescued by the Bob Barker. This incident signals an escalation of the conflict between Sea Shepherd and the Japanese.

True to form, the safety awareness and basic seamanship skills of many of the Sea Shepherd crew are shown to be wanting. For example, we found the delay between the ramming of the Ady Gil and the order to launch the small boats to rescue her crew unconscionable, and one wonders if just a day or two of basic training before setting out wouldn’t markedly improve the safety record and success rate of the expeditions.

The season concludes with an audacious attempt by the Ady Gil‘s captain, Pete Bethune (a marvelously entertaining and enterprising addition to the Sea Shepherd crew), to board the Japanese ship that sunk his vessel. The story of his subsequent detention in Japan is weird – read more here.

One doesn’t see many whales – dead or alive – in this season of Whale Wars. It either means that Sea Shepherd didn’t get near enough to the action (but they did – they locate the factory processing vessel Nisshin Maru) or that they successfully prevented the Japanese from fishing in a meaningful way (this is more likely). The Antarctic scenery is magnificent, as usual. If you’ve enjoyed prior seasons of Whale Wars, I’d recommend you take a look at this one. It’s more fast paced and varied than the first two seasons, and well worth the time.

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Lapsed mathematician, creator of order, formulator of hypotheses. Lover of the ocean, being outdoors, the bush, reading, photography, travelling (especially in Africa) and road trips.

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