Japan has suspended its whale hunt after pressure from world governments and harassment by eco-vigilante group Sea Shepherd. Previously.
A list of Watson’s campaigns in the eighties reads like a catalogue of Tintin adventures. In 1981, he secretly entered Siberia to document a Soviet food-processing facility that was converting illegally harvested whale meat into feed for animals at a fur farm. He succeeded in avoiding the K.G.B. and in outmaneuvering the Soviet Navy around a pod of gray whales. (Greenpeace, which visited the facility the following year, got caught; one of the Greenpeace activists told me, “I was taken into a room with a K.G.B. guy who asked, ‘Do you know Paul Watson?’ ”) In 1982, from a chartered airplane, Watson dropped paint-filled light bulbs on a Soviet trawler in the northern Pacific. He has used spoiled pie filling, fired from water cannons, as a weapon at sea. During the Falklands War, he contacted the British Navy and offered to assist its fleet by ferrying medical supplies to the front—“so I could head off any Argentine move to kill penguins,” he told me. The British declined the offer.Neptune's Navy [print], the life and opinions of Paul Watson, anti-whaling vigilante and founder of Sea Shepherd. [more inside]
During the 19th century, thousands of men took to the seas to hunt for whales. The indigenous peoples of the Arctic practiced whaling for several millennia before that. Technological change and changes in mores have reduced the whaling industry to a heavily regulated shadow of what it used to be. But it hasn’t disappeared altogether. Even now, at the dawn of the 21st century, ships prowl the seas in search of a spout or a gigantic fin. A few months ago, Outside magazine published an account of a whale hunt aboard the Norwegian ship Sofie.
(Knock, knock) "Candygram!" We don't know if ZDF has shown early SNL skits (nostalgic photo here), but German Greenpeace made a dramatic delivery to the Japanese Embassy in Berlin: a 55-foot-long fin whale that had been stranded in the Baltic. The dramatic gesture underscored the organization's contention that Japan's whaling, long defended as research, is in fact unnecessary: sufficient numbers of beached whales are available for research. The leviathan — 20 tonnes of blubber — was craned onto a truck and driven 150 miles from Rostock-Warnemünde to Berlin, and was due to be returned to the coast for study. (German-language stories on Greenpeace.de website here, here, and here, including logistical details for those curious about arranging their own special deliveries.)