Whale Wars: War Stories

Tonight Lisa Ling sits down with Captain Paul Watson, Captain Locky Maclean, Chris Aultman, Fiona McCuaig, Benjamin “Pottsy” Potts, and Matt Smith to look back at this year’s anti-whaling campaign.  Mixed with interviews and footage from the season, we take a look back at everything that happened during this year’s campaign.

Captain Watson says that the first good thing that the Nisshin Maru did was to help with the relief efforts in Japan after the earthquake.  He believes that whaling may have ended permanently in the Southern Ocean because it’s not economically feasible.

He says that whales are the most highly sociable and highly intelligent species on the planet.  And they deserve to be protected.

If one wants to become a member of the Sea Shepherd, they have to be a volunteer because he cannot afford to give them a paycheck.  Fiona says that she originally started out just helping but was convinced to go on the ship with no experience whatsoever.

Lisa Ling now points out that there were a lot more small speedboat missions this year than other years.  Some worked, some didn’t.  A clip of Pottsy with the ship coming up very close is discussed.  And the ship hit the small speedboat.  He says it was an error of judgment, but there’s so many factors that come into play, you can’t account for everything.

Captain Watson talks about that when they’re in those waters, it’s an Antarctic summer.  But Lisa points out that during the one mission, the small boat teams had to spend 13 hours in the cold while the Bob Barker returned to get them.  This is known by many of us to be the “Mikey” incident.  Captain Paul Watson talks about how he would not have let Mikey go to sleep when he’s experiencing hypothermia.  But Captain Watson points out that if a crew member isn’t willing to sacrifice their own life for that of a whale, he won’t take them.

Matt talks about how when he’s not working as a Sea Shepherd he’s a crane operator and his wife is a marketing person.  They save up money so that he can go out on campaigns.

Captain Watson talks about how his passion for wildlife began.  When he was a child he saw a bunch of beaver’s and when he returned the next year, they were gone because of a bunch of trappers.  From that point he was determined to help protect wildlife.

Now we center on the Gojira’s role in the campaign and the awesome ship it is.  Captain Maclean talks about how because it was so small, everyone had to get along.  Fiona talks about how even on the big ships you’re no longer than a meter away from someone for any length of time.

Viewers ask why Chris can’t and doesn’t drop things onto the deck from the air.  He says there is an international clause that states that nothing shall be dropped from an aircraft in the air.

Now the discussion goes to the destruction of the Sea Shepherd’s ship last season and how scary it really was.  Pottsy talks about how he boarded the Yushin Maru II in a previous season and how he didn’t know where he’d wind up when he did that.  His choice to do this was because he wanted to make his mark and he wanted to come face to face with the Japanese and say what they were doing was wrong.

They now talk about the search and rescue mission that they participated in.  Captain Paul Watson says he didn’t have much of a choice in helping in the mission, regardless of the risk to his own crew.  It’s the way things work at sea he says.  Chris talks about how he spotted the orange life raft in the ocean and how he was filled with hope.  But, it was not the raft from the distressed ship.  He really wishes that they had found someone.

When the Sea Shepherd’s finally found the Nisshin Maru, things didn’t exactly work out the way they wanted it to.  After returning from spotting them, Chris needed sleep.  Four hours later he returned to the air, but the Nisshin Maru had once again disappeared from sight.  Lisa asks Chris if he felt like he let the crew down.  He says no.  He pushed himself to his limit and is responsible for his crew’s life and his life.  It was just bad luck.  Captain Watson says that the Japanese sacrificed two of their harpoon vessels to follow their ships.  I will note that in the episode, he doesn’t really answer her question…

Captain Watson says that he had mixed feelings about the harpoon ships tailing him.  It kept them away from the factory ship, but at the same time it drastically reduced the whaling fleet’s ability to harvest whales.

Early on the Gojira had some engine problems, but its Captain talks about finding the Nisshin Maru and how exciting it was.

After the call from the Japanese reporter stating an official conference was held stating that the whaling fleet was returning home, everyone talks about how surreal it was hearing that.  Captain Watson says they don’t know if they’ve won, and there are many more fights out there.  But he would like to see whaling end and that humans and whales can live in peace.  He believes that the only way to end it is through direct intervention.

Captain Watson talks about how they just came back from defending Bluefin tuna and how they’re heading to the Faroe Islands to stop whaling there.  They’re going to put political pressure on Denmark to stop it and put acoustical devices in the water to stop the driving of these whales to the beach to slaughter them.  The rest of the crew talks about their various missions that they’re about to undertake.

The victory in the Southern Ocean gives them more credibility and the fight continues!

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Fiona McCuaig
Captain Paul Watson
Matt Smith


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