Tim Watters, a photographer aboard The Steve Irwin, gives his personal account of finding the Nisshin Maru and documenting the grisly scene aboard the decks of the factory vessel. On the 5th of January, The Steve Irwin’s helicopter found the Nisshin Maru with three protected Minke Whales on its decks, dead and awaiting butchering. The decks were smeared with the blood and remains of a fourth whose body had already been carved and processed into uniform pieces of meat, with the undesirable selections dragged across the decks and tossed overboard.
Operation Relentless is Sea Shepherd’s tenth Antarctic Whale Defence Campaign to intervene in the illegal slaughter of protected and endangered whales in the Southern Ocean Whale Sanctuary by the Japanese whaling fleet. In our previous nine campaigns, Sea Shepherd has saved the lives of over 4,500 whales.
This weekend DolphinProject.org/Earth Island Institute’s Ric O’Barry and THE COVE director Louie Psihoyos lit up the Empire State Building to raise awareness for THE COVE!
The color red symbolizes the blood red waters of the cove in Taiji, Japan, where thousands of dolphins are brutally killed each year. Their meat, which contains toxic levels of mercury, is sold as food even though it’s unfit for human consumption. Most people in Japan don’t know this is happening.
“This ceremony is about reaching the people of Japan,” said Ric. “Its a plea for their help in shutting down the cove. Lighting the iconic Empire State Building in New York, the “World’s Most Famous Office Building”, is just one of the many ways we are trying to reach them. We believe that the Japanese people love dolphins and that once they know what’s happening, they will take action to stop it. It’s really up to them.”
Louie added, “This lighting also honors the millions of people around the world – most especially those in Japan – who have joined us in our effort to raise awareness about the slaughters, as well as the issues of global pollution and the overall health of our oceans worldwide.”
The owner of the Empire State Building was inspired to get involved after seeing THE COVE, which shines a blinding light on all these issues and more. Ric and Louie were joined at the ceremony by THE COVE producer Fisher Stevens, Actor John Leguizamo, and Race Car Driver and DolphinProject.org volunteer Leilani Munter, who is half Japanese and has traveled with Ric to Taiji on several occasions.
Academy Award-winning actor and producer Sean Connery, best known as the original James Bond, has joined the International Advisory Board of Sea Shepherd Conservation Society, the world’s leading marine wildlife conservation nonprofit organization. Connery joins the SSCS advisory board alongside two valued new additions: four-time Women’s World Surfing Champion Stephanie Gilmore and Emmy Award-winning Writer, Producer and Director/Co-Creator of The Simpsons, Sam Simon.
Beloved the world over as the iconic 007, Connery starred in seven films of the popular Ian Fleming franchise including: Dr. No (1962), From Russia with Love (1963), Goldfinger (1964), Thunderball (1965), You Only Live Twice (1967), Diamonds Are Forever (1971), and Never Say Never Again (1983). In later years, several other actors took on the career-defining role of James Bond including another valued member of Sea Shepherd’s advisory board, Pierce Brosnan.
Commenting on what it means to have the original “007” join the ranks of Sea Shepherd supporters, SSCS Founder and President Captain Paul Watson said, “We are fortunate to have Pierce Brosnan, Christian Bale, Richard Dean Anderson, Martin Sheen, William Shatner, and Marina Sirtis among Sea Shepherd’s devoted members and supporters. Today we gained a new Advisory Board member-Sean Connery. How can we lose? We have two James Bonds, Batman, MacGyver, a former ‘President of the United States,’ Captain Kirk, and Counselor Troi on our side.”
Paul Watson and Stephanie Gilmore
Serving with Connery on the Board will be one of the greatest surfers of all time, four-time Women’s World Surfing Champion Stephanie Gilmore. Stephanie joins Kelly Slater and world-renowned Free Surfer Dave “Rasta” Rastovich as the trinity of surfers on Sea Shepherd’s International Board of Advisors.
“Having Stephanie on our team with Kelly and Rasta places Sea Shepherd in very high regard in the surfing world,” said Captain Watson. “Surfers are the greatest human ambassadors for the sea and these three world-class athletes are each a very powerful voice for ocean conservation. Together they represent a huge wave of support in our efforts to defend biodiversity and life in our seas.”
Joining Connery and Gilmore is writer, producer and director Sam Simon, who has worked on such critically acclaimed TV classics as Taxi, Cheers, The Tracey Ullman Show, The Drew Carey Show, and The Simpsons, which he co-created. Simon is the recipient of a dozen Emmys and a Peabody award. Known also as a dedicated philanthropist, he works tirelessly on behalf of animals and the disabled. Simon recently hosted an exclusive Hollywood fundraiser for Sea Shepherd’s soon-to-launch Antarctic whale defense campaign, Operation Divine Wind.
In speaking of his new advisory role, Simon explained: “I’m proud to be a member of Sea Shepherd’s International Board of Advisors and look forward to the day direct action brings an end to whaling and other outdated horrors.”
Connery, Gilmore and Simon join a slate of esteemed advisors from the animal protection, conservation, media, arts, legal, and business communities who all lend their expertise in support of Sea Shepherd’s mission to defend, conserve and protect ocean wildlife worldwide.
File photo: Japanese Coast Guard personnel hurl flash bang grenades during Operation Migaloo in 2008
Thirty million dollars buys a great deal of influence and can exert immense pressure when defending an illegal activity.
In an act of desperation, the Japanese whalers armed with a war chest of some $US30 million allocated by the Japanese government from the tsunami earthquake relief fund are throwing a great deal of muscle into their efforts to stop the Sea Shepherd ships from saving whales this season.
The latest move has the Japanese whalers filing a lawsuit in a U.S. Court to prohibit Sea Shepherd from intervening against illegal Japanese whaling operations. Sea Shepherd dismisses this suit as frivolous and nothing more than the whalers attempting to use litigation as a weapon against Sea Shepherd.
“We have won this round already,” said Captain Paul Watson. “Last season we defeated the whalers and sent them home in humiliation after they were only able to kill 17% of their quota. This year will be more challenging. Thirty million dollars buys a great deal of influence and we are expecting a full onslaught of harassment and bureaucratic obstacles from Japan and from the governments, courts and media they are able to influence.
“It will be a challenging season and the most dangerous campaign to date as we head down for our eighth year of interventions against the whale poachers of the Southern Ocean Whale Sanctuary.”
Sea Shepherd is undeterred by this latest attempt to stop us in the U.S. Courts.
“This seems like a frivolous lawsuit to me,” said Captain Watson. “We have the images of the Japanese whalers destroying one of our ships, ramming our ships, running over our crew, firing upon us, throwing concussion grenades, deploying acoustical weapons, hitting us with water cannons and bamboo spears and they are suing us because they are accusing us of violence towards them. We have not rammed them and we have not caused a single injury nor have we been charged with a crime or even reprimanded by anyone for our actions. We have cooperated with every inquiry. They have not. This is simply a case of using the courts to harass us. I don’t believe they have a case and I doubt a U.S. court would take this seriously. Unlike Japan, the courts in the United States don’t automatically do what the government demands that they do.”
Sea Shepherd has more important issues to address than being distracted by lawsuits. “Our entire focus for the next three months will be on preventing the ruthless and illegal slaughter of whales in the Southern Ocean Whale Sanctuary,“ said Captain Watson. “We will not be deterred by force, by lawsuits, by bureaucrats, by critics or by any government. We act non-violently within the boundaries of the law and we save whales from a criminal operation in a whale sanctuary.”
All this muscle is simply the last gasp of a dying, ecologically destructive and ruthless industry. Sea Shepherd will never abandon the whales of the Southern Ocean no matter how heavy handed the Japanese whalers become. The only way they will stop us is to kill us and they may be just desperate enough to do just that.”