Battle on the Hypothermic Seas
January 14, 2007 3:57 PM   Subscribe

Yarrrr/Banzai! All you "Talk like a pirate day" keyboard swashbucklers take heed: The Sea Shepherd Society's flagship Farley Mowat is now officialy a pirate vessel after Canada, Britain, and Belize revoked their registration. As the Japanese winter Antarctic whale hunting season begins (previously), the M/V Farley Mowat is setting sail to meet them, armed with a hydraulic "can opener" battering ram, a pie cannon, and moral conviction. With the Japanese whaling fleet now majority owned by the Japanese government, a subject of international diplomatic intrigue, and after last year's confrontations, this could get ugly!
posted by anthill (54 comments total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
I agree. It could either get very ugly, and/or very AMAZING.

Honestly, that just seems much more "badass" than... other activist things which I don't want to list or cite.
posted by CitrusFreak12 at 4:02 PM on January 14, 2007

They have a PIE CANNON! I'm giggling like a schoolgirl.
posted by chrismear at 4:05 PM on January 14, 2007 [1 favorite]

Are they seriously flying a Jolly Roger? I find it hard to imagine they won't just get sunk or boarded.
posted by delmoi at 4:09 PM on January 14, 2007

Legally, they can be sunk or boarded now, delmoi. It's a definite possiblity.
posted by anthill at 4:11 PM on January 14, 2007

Farley Mowat , after whom their flagship is named, once claimed to have fired his .22 at U.S. Strategic Air Command planes flying over his home in Newfoundland.

Gotta like that guy! (and, if you haven't watched the movie "Never Cry Wolf", you've missed a good one).

This may get ugly, but protests now need to get ugly, we're on the edge of destruction on too many fronts to still be sticking flowers into the barrels of m-16's.

I hope they sink a few whalers....
posted by HuronBob at 4:13 PM on January 14, 2007

Going after the whalers is pretty thrilling, but the importance of food chains can't be overstated... if you fish out the base, the photogenic and awe-inspiring predators at the top will die just as surely as with an explosive-tipped harpoon.
posted by anthill at 4:16 PM on January 14, 2007

"Never Cry Wolf"
Notably translated into Russian under the hilarious title "Не кричи, волки!"
posted by Wolfdog at 4:17 PM on January 14, 2007

anthill: Arn't the whales they're going for baleen whales that eat plankton?
posted by delmoi at 4:21 PM on January 14, 2007

Farley Mowat , after whom their flagship is named, once claimed to have fired his .22 at U.S. Strategic Air Command planes flying over his home in Newfoundland.

Always makes me nuts when I read or hear about people firing guns up into the air. Does NOBODY realize that bullets come back DOWN after they've gone up?
posted by miss lynnster at 4:24 PM on January 14, 2007

"Moral conviction"?

Please. Watson is an eco-fundamentalist. He's a lunatic and an ass. He had no trouble getting in bed with white supremacists when he opposed the Makah people's sovereign right to a ceremonial kill (of a whale species that is not endangered nor even threatened.)
posted by docgonzo at 4:25 PM on January 14, 2007

Hey docgonzo, I never said the moral conviction was justified... but they certainly have it.
posted by anthill at 4:28 PM on January 14, 2007

"Always makes me nuts when I read or hear about people firing guns up into the air"

Of course, firing guns into most any other medium other than the air is sort of unusual, and perhaps dangerous.
posted by HuronBob at 4:29 PM on January 14, 2007

delmoi: Yep, so it's irrelevant in this case. It's more of a big picture observation... large mammals get the headlines, but large mammals have to eat, and sleep. Habitat loss is a big issue too.

Personally, I think the whaling issue is a overblown, but it certainly makes for exciting news.
posted by anthill at 4:33 PM on January 14, 2007

I fired a gun at a SaraLee BreakfastPastry once, but I was provoked first, and it was later ruled justifiable.
posted by Dizzy at 4:34 PM on January 14, 2007

"At the risk of sounding dramatic, my crew and I are prepared to die for these whales if need be," [Watson] said.

Don't take chances: git-r-done.
posted by anotherpanacea at 4:34 PM on January 14, 2007

whalers? ... save the whalers? ... i hope they all get audited by chartered accountants
posted by pyramid termite at 4:35 PM on January 14, 2007

I would hate for any of the various endangered whales to become extinct but I have yet to be convinced that this sort of violent action will do any good or even that it will not make the Japanese and others even more steadfast in their determination to hunt whales.

Perhaps we can get all of the ALF/ELF people to go with the anti-whalers and they can all be sank on one ship. That would be swell.
posted by weretable and the undead chairs at 4:51 PM on January 14, 2007

Farley Mowat , after whom their flagship is named, once claimed to have fired his .22 at U.S. Strategic Air Command planes flying over his home in Newfoundland.

I hope some endangered ducks ate the lead.

If the ship is anything like its namesake, most of its payload is unbridled ego, and it's powered by a hybrid fuel of excessive self-regard and arrogance.
posted by Alvy Ampersand at 5:09 PM on January 14, 2007

Always makes me nuts when I read or hear about people firing guns up into the air. Does NOBODY realize that bullets come back DOWN after they've gone up?

I was actually pondering that question just this last New Year's Eve.

Yes, it's incredibly stupid to be firing a gun up in the air - or just about anywhere except a target range, and even then there are debates to be had. Yes, they come down. Yes, they have killed people.

But how fast? Like the proverbial penny dropped from the Empire State Building which does not go 8 inches into the concrete, how fast is a free falling bullet actually going?

Math hates me, so I don't have the skills to solve for x, but what's the atmospheric free-fall terminal velocity of, say, a non-deformed .22 from a thousand feet or two?

It will not be the same as the muzzle velocity. It will be greater than the penny, by merit of mass and aerodynamic profile, but it won't meet or exceed muzzle velocity.
posted by loquacious at 5:46 PM on January 14, 2007

These guys sound like dicks.

I'm no fan of whaling, but a 'can opener' is just fucking stupid and dangerous.

Also, everytime I read something on IndyMedia I am immediately inclined to ask what the other side of the story. Sure they might have been deregistered because of economic pressure, or maybe because they've stated they are planning to cause damage to other vessels. Greenpeace is a much higher-profile anti-whaling group, and their ships remain registered - I saw one just the other day, and it didn't need to fly a Jolly Roger.

I'm much more supportive of Greenpeace's idea to build up an anti-whaling movement within Japan though the net. Already the demand for whale in Japan is low, I don't think it would take much to build an active opposition.
posted by sycophant at 5:58 PM on January 14, 2007

If they perform a hostile attack on a Japanese whaling ship, they will be met by the navy, and either boarded or sunk, depending on their ability to not piss their pants when confronted by a machine of war.

This will not be effective, and only goes to erode support for their movement, not bolster it. These people are not to be admired, they are to be pitied, because they are ignorant.

The dollars they waste on getting their ship sunk, and the impending trials and lawsuits, would be more effectively spent lobbying governments and educating the populace.
posted by Ynoxas at 5:59 PM on January 14, 2007

Google likes you, loquacious. 300 f.p.s. is your answer... not enough to kill, but enough to hurt badly.
posted by anthill at 6:01 PM on January 14, 2007

loquatious: uh, fast enough to kill people.
posted by delmoi at 6:03 PM on January 14, 2007

Mythbusters did the one about bullets. From teh show, it was clear that the terminal velocity of the average slug wasn't enough to be likely to kill someone. When people fire towards the horizon and the bullet maintains some of its muzzle velocity is when you're more likely to be penetrated.
posted by wilful at 6:04 PM on January 14, 2007

Interestingly, Japan is currently trying to escape the ruling of the International Whaling Commission by claiming that they are performing "Scientific Research". Total fucking bullshit.

At the same time, they're buying up Caribbean countries' votes to try and tip the balance of the IWC for the next round...

While it doesn't contradict anything that Alvy and Ynoxas have said about Sea Shepherd's cuddliness, it's a good example of how the other side isn't necessarily playing by the rules either.
posted by anthill at 6:08 PM on January 14, 2007

delmoi: found an example of what I was trying to get at: here's a whale that might be going extinct from food/habitat loss soon...
posted by anthill at 6:16 PM on January 14, 2007

Anthill, why the "trying"?

They do it every year. Bring on the can opener...
posted by pompomtom at 6:33 PM on January 14, 2007

US army ordnance did the bullet thing in the 1920's.
posted by IronLizard at 6:45 PM on January 14, 2007

Anthill beat me to it. oops.
posted by IronLizard at 6:45 PM on January 14, 2007

But it's for a .30 cal.
posted by IronLizard at 6:46 PM on January 14, 2007

...depending on their ability to not piss their pants when confronted by a machine of war.

Uh, you do have some idea who these people are when you condemn them, right? I'm pretty sure they have that ability. It's not like their organization is without experience at this sort of thing. It is not likely to lose them any support they didn't lose long ago. Doing reckless and stupid things is their specialty. One previous incident as described on their web site:

The Whales Forever was rammed by the Norwegian destroyer Andenes, fired upon, and had two depth charges deployed under the hull. Although suffering significant damage, the Whales Forever prevented the Norwegians from boarding and returned to the Shetland Islands having severely embarrassed the Norwegian authorities.
posted by sfenders at 6:56 PM on January 14, 2007

I feel most sorry for the whales in all of this.
posted by Samuel Farrow at 6:56 PM on January 14, 2007

If the ship is anything like its namesake, most of its payload is unbridled ego, and it's powered by a hybrid fuel of excessive self-regard and arrogance.

You ever meet the him in person? During the eight months of my association with Mr. Mowat, never, not once did I see that kind of behaviour. He may have strong opinions, but I find that common amongst authors and public figures.
posted by jkaczor at 7:09 PM on January 14, 2007

"As a deterrent against boarding the ship, any unwanted guests can expect to be "slimed" with 45 gallon shots of lemon or cream pie from the Farley Mowat's pie gun."

I am disappointed that the pie gun is merely a defensive weapon.
posted by homunculus at 7:13 PM on January 14, 2007

sfenders: today, all they would have to be labeled is "terrorists" and they'd be damn lucky if they were even given the opportunity to raise a white flag.

I also assume this was before they lost their registration.

Rest assured the authorities will not be using pie as a weapon.
posted by Ynoxas at 7:42 PM on January 14, 2007

I'm not sure how I feel about this; on one hand, I admire their conviction, passion, and willingness to risk life and limb for a decent cause; on the other, I don't think this is the type of tactic that works unless you can sink every whaling vessel that leaves port and get back to your secret base before the navy arrives. You also gain zero points among "law and order is everything" folks.

The strongest scientific argument is possibly that the seas are going to be nothing but jellyfish and slime in 50 years anyway, so why not kill everything else in them now?
posted by maxwelton at 10:10 PM on January 14, 2007

"We get called lots of things but the bottom line is that Sea Shepherd is not a protest organisation."
Speaking as a friend of someone who's worked on the M/V Farley Mowat, I have a lot of respect for the direct action nature of what they're doing. They're not complaining, they're doing and that's exactly what needs to happen to protect whales. They never hurt anyone at sea. Their aim is to damage the boats just enough to send them back home or put them out of operation. The boats they have sunk have been in port [both in Portugal and Japan, as I recall]. Mostly, they've been putting propellers out of service [again, if I recall correctly].

The core of their [legal] argument is that the Japanese whaling fleet is illegal but that other countries won't do anything to stop the Japanese... so an NGO must. That's why no one has successfully prosecuted them yet.

And not sure if I completely agree with this, but here's their case against fraud of Greenpeace.
posted by trinarian at 11:32 PM on January 14, 2007 [1 favorite]


there hasn't been a need for a "secret base" and militaries haven't harassed the FM, though this new registration flap will make things interesting. They frequently dock in harbors the world over, including my {navy base} hometown of Jacksonville, Fl.
posted by trinarian at 11:40 PM on January 14, 2007

Wonder if they'll be docking at Sealand? That would be, well, Perfect.
posted by IronLizard at 1:39 AM on January 15, 2007

I love the fact that whenever there's anything about ecomilitant groups you get people crawling out of the woodwork who will bitch and moan about them about 20 x as much as they would about, say, al Qaeda.

This is not an uncommon phenomenon. I mean hell, the FBI certainly liked to bitch and moan about the ELF in 2001 instead of, say, al Qaeda. And their sense of finely honed proportion was certainly *rewarded*, wasn't it?

Now, maybe we should be scared. Combined, the ELF and the Sea Shepherd Society have killed . . . wait, lemme look this up . . .

0 people.

Right wing dorks want to believe that these groups "piss their pants" in the face of state authority (the cops and other hippie-beaters that they, as a rule, identify with, deriving a vicarious sense of power from somebody else's violence), but that hasn't happened. Liberal leftists, who don't like up anybody who shows them up for being phony-ass posers (and who, frankly, rely on an unhealthy polity to make a living and provide a righteous political identity), desperately try to define such groups as real threats to personal safety, despite the less than awesome casualty statistics racked up by "ecoterrorists."

And what's even more offensive is that radicals keep *not pissing their pants* and they *have an excellent record of not killing people*, which in the end is what seems to really offends, isn't it?

And so the FBI will continue to attack the ELF instead dealing with the fuckload of armed compounds in the US that would like to have a race war ASAP (and that, by the way, actually get people killed). And liberal leftists will urge taking the long, complex, tolerant view regarding murderous, global religious warfare so as not to offend anyone, but will sure make sure to complain about Paul Watson and such, lest anyone think they're "soft." God save us from the Green Scare.
posted by mobunited at 2:25 AM on January 15, 2007 [4 favorites]

Their aim is to damage the boats just enough to send them back home or put them out of operation.

They've been lucky so far, but I imagine there's a lot that can go wrong when you aim to put holes in the ships of the Japanese whaling fleet in the Southern Ocean. They are certainly putting people's lives at risk. I suppose regular law enforcement does that too sometimes, in the course of doing their job. I have to respect their crazy devotion to the cause, but I'm not sure if this kind of vigilante action is really a good idea. If you accept the premise that whales are people too, I guess it could be.
posted by sfenders at 5:06 AM on January 15, 2007

I have little understanding of the flag assignment process, but couldn't they fly the flag, of, say Sealand?
posted by Laotic at 6:05 AM on January 15, 2007

"Hostile anti-whaling tactics 'no help'".

Finish the sentence... no help to the Japanese government's agenda regarding supplying their citizens with meeting their great cultural significance of whale meat.

The tactics are meant to grab headlines to force the issue on the front page and point out the duplicity of schemers making an end run with the help of their large bank account and lawyers.

When 'legal' avenues are proving less than effective or slow and prolonged, then garnering headlines and taking action forces the issue to ultimately bear pressure ]hello public[ on the offending perpetrators and/or government representative.

More Media 101:
When they choose to fly a pirate's flag, they are bringing to attention, "flying flags of convenience and the Japanese and Norwegian registered whalers are illegally slaughtering whales in sanctuaries and killing endangered species, yet we are forced to have our flag struck for opposing these illegal activities."

Placement: Closer to the front page.

Media 102:
The Hydralic 'can opener' Battering Ram.
A colourful description, fit for front page headlines, bringing to attention, an effective tool to scrape the sides of whaling ships so they must repair to harbour for repairs, leaving protected sanctuaries a few weeks respite.

Japan's annual whale hunt will risk lives

Exactly whose lives. Japan's whaling factory Nisshin-maru ¿ Which is how many times larger than said pirate ship¿

"Sea Shepherd are bringing the cause of whale conservation into disrepute."

What poppycock.

"As a deterrent against boarding the ship, any unwanted guests can expect to be "slimed" with 45 gallon shots of lemon or cream pie from the Farley Mowat's pie gun".

Too expensive and tasty. May I suggest the "Farley Mowatt's" holding tank's contents¿

"Japan has been hunting whales in the Southern Ocean since mid-December, using a scientific permit from the International Whaling Commission to take up to 935 minke whales and 10 fin whales".

Obtaining 'permits' like these are obfuscations of the actual intent of said 'permittee' holders. Revoke and hold accountable. Scientific Whaling Permit. Previously pointed out by anthill

"A global moratorium on whaling was agreed to by most international governments in 1986. Using a loophole in that ban, Japanese fishers have continued to kill whales under an allowance for scientific research".

Plain as the nose on your face./
Big question is what are the specifics of receiving such a 'permit'¿ Who polices said ships with such a 'permit'.
Where's the accountability¿

"The Japanese government announced last year that it would increase its annual kill to about 850 whales, mainly from the South Pacific population of Minke whales".

Since when is killing in large numbers part of scientific research¿
Call it a slaughter and I may believe you.
International Regulation of Whaling:Case Study

"The Japanese government, however, says whale meat carries great cultural significance among the nation's people".

Seems the Japanese government fails to acknowledge that holding fast to outdated notions are no longer feasible given that facts associated with over fishing and the repercussions for the future. When that resource is no longer there, what then of 'the great cultural significance'¿

In the list of Sea Shepherd Conservation Society's ships donated/current fleet, what struck me was the commitment from sponsoring countries to their cause, after all the posturing and negotiations have not improved reducing the whale slaughter.

Corporate interests over the sustenance of species'¿ That includes humankind.
posted by alicesshoe at 11:22 AM on January 15, 2007

mobunited: I have no idea what your mindless aimless screed is going on about, but I know you did reference my comment specifically.

All I can tell you is that I identify myself as quite liberal in all thoughts and deeds. However, one can be liberal and progressive without being a radical.

I can oppose the Iraq war without putting hits on National Guard members. Hey, if they were all killed, we couldn't continue the war, right? What lunacy.

To the "middle of the road" citizen, which the vast majority of people actually are, this type of behavior is unacceptable, and it WILL do more to harm their cause than bolster it.

If they attack a ship at sea with their "giant can opener", then they *DESERVE* to be sunk. Period. End of story.

To test this theory, try it with different circumstances. Would you support a group that tried to sink ships that took food aid to African countries, because you support the local farmers of that region? What about a group that tried to attack ships that relocate refugees out of a war zone because you feel domestic problems should be handled domestically?

Just because you support their CAUSE does not automatically mean you should support their ACTIONS.

Put yet another way, would you still be supporting them if they began summary executions of anyone related to the whaling industry?
posted by Ynoxas at 11:43 AM on January 15, 2007

Hell yeah! I hope they open a few cans. Whaling is disgraceful and whalers deserve to have their ships sunk.
posted by Baby_Balrog at 1:07 PM on January 15, 2007

Balrog, baby, they aren't going to be sinking ships. They crease the hull above the waterline, but it requires a trip back to port.

'Scientific' whaling factories are the disgrace.
posted by alicesshoe at 1:41 PM on January 15, 2007

Hmm...I feel moderately mixed on all of this.

I like the idea of a pie cannon. And I can see that a giant can opener is just a good way to get some press, which is probably the real point of all of this.

I also know some people in movements like this and there is a degree of self-importance and "look at me!"-ism that I don't find all that tasteful. It seems like there is a fair bit of "hmm, what do i do after college?...well, um...fight injustice! Yes, that's what I'll do. People will think I'm brave then and all the other life choices before me look boring. Plus I get to dress like a dashing hippie/pirate/eco-dude/dudette."

But then again, are they any more immature or less thoughtful or full of themselves than the folks in mid-management positions at Fortune 500 companies or the ones scooping up big end of the year bonuses on Wall Street in the last few weeks?

Probably not.

In conclusion:
- whaling bad
- people who fight it often immature
- people who don't fight it often immature
- simplistic arguments about complex subjects seem as ridiculous as a pie cannon, but not as aesthetically pleasing
posted by django_z at 4:31 PM on January 15, 2007

Haven't read all the links yet, but I feel I should note: anybody who actually flies a black skull flag is asking to get exploded. And is probably enough of an asshole to deserve it.
posted by Football Bat at 4:40 PM on January 15, 2007

Paul Watson may be crazy but that does not mean he is wrong. Killin whales is an atrocity. No, ifs, and, or buts. Period.

Whales may be a form of human completely physiologically different (per se) than homo sapiens. Ditto many species of dolphins.

BTW, Paul Watson is featured to good effect in Canadian Rob Stewart's amazing new film, Sharkwater.

In the film Sharkwater, eco-photographer Stewart and Watson take on long-liners who are trashing the ocean with gross over-fishing along the coasts of Costa Rica and Guatemala. The footage gives a clear view of Watson's priorities.

Sane or insane, I feel Watson is in the right on this issue. And when it comes to whales meriting further study with regards to their kind, Watson, Stewart, I, and the above metafites are not alone.
posted by mongonikol at 6:33 PM on January 15, 2007

Whales may be a form of human completely physiologically different (per se) than homo sapiens.

posted by atrazine at 7:31 AM on January 16, 2007

And not sure if I completely agree with this, but here's their case against fraud of Greenpeace.
This is nonsense.

They're either being dishonest or disingenuous there. There is a big difference between environmentalists (Greenpeace) and animal rights activists (ELF, Sea Shepherds). To make the case for fraud, they have a list of Greenpeace quotes saying essentially 'We believe that [hunt so and so] is sustainable and so we aren't opposed to it. From an animal rights point of view, that's obviously madness, but it makes perfect sense coming from an environmentalist.
posted by atrazine at 7:45 AM on January 16, 2007

Whales may be a form of human completely physiologically different (per se) than homo sapiens.

This is so ignorant that it disqualifies anything you have to say on this topic, or possibly any other.
posted by Ynoxas at 8:17 AM on January 16, 2007

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