The Sea Shepherd Conservation Society has been striving to protect marine wildlife since 1977. Each year, Captain Paul Watson has tried a variety of different hard-line tactics in trying to eradicate whaling activities. This year, in addition to the Steve Irwin, Sea Shepherd added the Bob Barker and the Ady Gil to guard the seas and bolster their whale defense campaign. And with changing technology, they've added new methods to their arsenal of tactics to preserve the fragile ecosystems of our vast oceans for generations to come.
THE STEVE IRWIN
The Sea Shepherd vessel once named Robert Hunter was officially renamed the Steve Irwin in honor of the late Australian conservationist in December 2007. The ship was named by Terri Irwin in honor of the life and work of her late husband, who was in the midst of discussing joining the team when he passed away. The Steve Irwin is 35 years old and holds approximately 35 crew members this campaign (2009/2010). It is captained by Paul Watson and is Sea Shepherd's flagship.
Video: The Steve Irwin
Video: Close Quarters & Collisions
Video: Charging the Japanese
THE BOB BARKER
Aptly named after its main financier, television host and avid conservationist Bob Barker, this ship was purchased using part of a hefty $5 million donation in 2009. Ironically, this ship was once a Norwegian whaling vessel, and is now used to combat illegal Japanese whaling vessels. It is 60 years old and holds approximately 32 crew members. This ice-class vessel is captained by Chuck Swift.
Video: The Bob Barker
THE ADY GIL
This futuristic vessel, previously known as Earthrace, recently set the world record for global circumnavigation. It was designed to be ecofriendly and fully submersible. The craft is now named after California businessman Ady Gil, co-owner of American Hi Definition and Sweetwater Digital (digital video equipment companies). Mr. Gil donated approximately $1 million toward the purchase of the boat, proving himself an avid supporter of the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society. The vessel was sunk on January 6, 2010, after a collision with a Japanese whaling ship. Fortunately, all crew members were rescued by the Bob Barker and taken to safety prior to the vessel sinking. It was five years old and held a crew of approximately five. It was captained by the builder of the ship, Pete Bethune.
Video: The Ady Gil
THE OUTBOARD BOATS
Sea Shepherd is not afraid to use mini-vessels to get directly between the harpoon and the whale. At present, they use four types. The Zodiacs are small inflatable boats that hold four to six crew members. The Delta is larger, faster and holds more crew members. The Zeppelin is faster still, but small, holding only about four crew members. And lastly, the Sea Shepherds use personal water crafts for short-distance missions. These outboard boats allow Sea Shepherd to get up-close and personal with whaling ships.
Video: Outboard Boats
Video: Launching Outboard Boats
Video: The Boat-Launching Checklist
Video: The Delta Capsizes
The helicopter, piloted by Chris Aultman, is basically Sea Shepherd's "eye in the sky." Operating off the Steve Irwin, it increases the range that they can scout for Japanese whaling vessels. It's also helpful for reporting changing weather conditions and ice patterns so that crews can constantly stay ahead of the game.
Video: The Helicopter
Video: The Pre-Flight Procedure
BUTYRIC ACID (STINK BOMBS)
One of Sea Shepherd's primary methods used against whalers, butyric acid (also called stink bombs or butter bombs) is bottled and then thrown aboard the enemy ship. The foul smell makes it almost impossible to continue work as it often induces vomit. Additionally, the chemical itself spoils any whale meat it comes into contact with.
Video: Butyric Acid (Stink Bombs)
Video: Attack With Butyric Acid
Video: Stink-Bombing a Harpoon Ship
METHYLCELLULOSE (SLIPPERY BOMB)
This non-toxic chemical comes in powdered form, and crew members fill paper bags with it before throwing it onto whalers' ships. Also called methocel, it is virtually harmless until the compound comes in contact with water, then any surface can become so slippery it's impossible to stand, making working conditions for the whalers impossible.
Video: Methocel (Slippery Bomb)
Video: Making Methocel
See more Tools and Tactics of Whale Wars, including those used by the Japanese whalers.