Operation Migaloo: With its newly renamed ship, Steve Irwin, Captain Paul Watson and his international crew have departed to the Antarctic Whale Sanctuary to defend endangered whales from the Japanese whaling ship already on its way. The ship formerly named the Robert Hunter was given its new name just prior to departure by Irwin’s widow, Terri Irwin.
Renaming ceremony - formerly Robert Hunter, now renamed Steve Irwin
This is its fourth expedition to the remote southern waters off the coast of Antarctica. This year the Japanese whalers will target nearly 1000 whales for certain death, including 50 endangered humpback whales and 10 endangered fin whales in the Southern Oceans.
The campaign is named in honor of Migaloo, an endangered albino humpback who has become a national icon in Australia. This year, for the first time in many years, the sights of the Japanese harpooners are set on the endangered humpbacks, meaning that Migaloo and all of his family are under imminent threat of death at the hands of Japanese whalers.
Founder and President of Sea Shepherd, Captain Paul Watson, is skippering the Steve Irwin, aka Robert Hunter, to enforce international conservation law and prevent the illegal slaughter of endangered species by an outlaw whaling fleet. As the Japanese whalers seek to hunt down and kill whales, Sea Shepherd will be hunting the whalers with the firm objective of intervention against their illegal activities.
'I did not establish the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society as a protest organization,' said Captain Watson. 'I have not gone to sea over all these years to simply bear witness to the atrocities that whalers continue to inflict upon the most gentle and intelligent beings in the seas. We are sea cops-operating legally under the guidelines of the United Nation's World Charter for Nature, which allow for the enforcement of international conservation law by non-governmental organizations in international jurisdictions.'
Nisshin Maru departing Shimonoseki in south western Japan
In 2005-2006, Sea Shepherd harried the Japanese fleet enough to ensure they went home 83 whales short of their self-appointed quota. In 2006-2007, the Japanese whalers fell over 500 whales short of their illegal quota.
Robert Hunter before being repainted
Sea Shepherd is returning this year with a ship to match the speed of the Japanese fleet, new equipment for intervention, and an international crew of dedicated volunteers willing to spend their holidays at the bottom of the earth on a historic voyage to save whales.
Sea Shepherd is on a quest to protect the greatest treasure of the seas-the great whales. 'We are obsessed with stopping the Nisshin Maru, and her ruthless fleet of hunter/killer boats armed with their explosive deadly blunt harpoons,' said Captain Watson. 'Because if we kill the whales, the sharks, the seals, and the sea turtles, we will destroy the very foundation of life in the oceans-and in so doing, we will destroy humankind.'
Late Steve Irwin - ship named in his memory
Sail-World will be following the progress of this and other boats on their way to the Southern Ocean for this purpose