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We catch the Nisshin Maru

We catch the Nisshin Maru

This is the fifth blog post in the series documenting the February to March 2008 leg of the Sea Shepherd anti-whaling Antarctic campaign. Previous posts in the series are here. The following post was an email I sent just over two weeks into the voyage. The next update will come Wednesday, July 16th.

(A donations page, if anyone wants to help me pay for plane tickets to my next Sea Shepherd campaign)

From: Steve Irwin Vessel
Sent on: 3/2/08 23:30:24 +0000

We just engaged the factory ship just now. As long as we’re on their tail,
they can’t do any more whaling. They had a group of soldiers on deck and ready for the engagement, but they’re in Australian waters breaking Australian law so what can they do? Shoot a boat full of Australians to prove they rule Australian territory?

The Nisshin Maru

The first battle begins. As we come into combat distance, the Japanese soldiers come onto the deck, and the Nisshin Maru uses its water cannons to try to repel us.

We threw acid and chemicals etc at their decks, so even if they lose us in a storm or something they can’t continue whaling operations. They tried to repel us with water cannons, but that did nothing. We threw everything we had, even some old vegan salad dressing that no one liked.

I was particularly happy that I hit their decks with my throw, because we had a butyric acid throwing contest a week ago to determine the teams, and I didn’t just throw badly, I threw so badly that everyone including me laughed. I threw like a disabled cat. So I kinda had to hit their deck during this engagement.

Me after hitting the Nisshin Maru with chemicals.

My friend Lawrence fighting the Nisshin Maru with butyric acid.

Lots to do since we’re still hot on their heels and the media keeps calling, so I gotta go for now.



  1. Comment by


    on #

    thats so great…
    what are the legalities or throwing the acid and is it potentially harmful to the water?
    how did you end up getting a gig of vegan pirate anyway? as a fan of edward teach, being a vegan pirate is my dream life.

  2. Comment by


    on #

    These efforts appear commendable. I don’t really have enough information at hand to determine whether or the tactic of the Pirate ship is the best way to allocate resources to fight whaling. The risk of public alienation does appear to be significant (esp. when “acid throwing” is being used as a tactic). I do believe, however, that the “Vegan Pirate” persona is in danger of becoming tedious and juvenile. Worse, it borders on trivializing the important issues at hand. It’s not about living the “dream” of The Vegan Pirate folks, it’s about doing the best to take care of a serious animal wealfare problem. The point is, the experience (at a humanistic level) is far secondary to purpose (the prevention of harm).

  3. Comment by


    on #

    Hey all, thanks for your comments. Well, I should first reassure everyone, every action Sea Shepherd does is completely legal. Since the organization was created in 1977, we haven’t hurt anyone, and we don’t cause any damage during engagements.

    Butyric acid has the acidity level of orange juice, so even if it hit someone, it would cause as much damage as hitting them with Tropicana. Everything we throw is harmless and biodegradable and in fact edible (although you wouldn’t want to). The reason we throw butyric acid is because it’s basically a stink bomb we aim at their whaling decks. This is to prevent them from being able to use their whaling decks (the butyric acid will ruin any whale meat they try to process on those decks).

    Any other chemicals we throw are harmless but prevent the butyric acid from being washed off their decks. For instance, the chemical I threw is the substance that coats pills that you swallow; it’s harmless to humans and the environment alike.

    Although it sounds like combat madness and two sides just throwing everything they have at each other, the substances we throw and the locations we throw them at the other ship, are all very carefully calculated in advance.

    Another aspect of this which isn’t often talked about, is the role each anti-whaling group plays. Not too many people realize that the founder of Sea Shepherd, Captain Paul Watson, was one of the original founders of Greenpeace (and that Robert Hunter, a huge Sea Shepherd supporter in life, whom the Steve Irwin was formerly named after, was the original founder of Greenpeace). Half the founders of Greenpeace left Greenpeace, and became Sea Shepherd supporters instead, because Greenpeace evolved into a lobby group that now opposes doing direct actions.

    Now, because of disagreements in how to save whales, and because of obvious disagreements in organizational direction, there is an extreme amount of animosity between Greenpeace and Sea Shepherd (I was recently stopped by a Greenpeace canvasser on the street while I was wearing my Sea Shepherd cap, and she started calling me a violent pirate who destroys ships). However, as much as the two organizations hate each other, the ultimate fact of the matter is that both organizations are necessary, even though each side finds the other to be distasteful.

    Greenpeace is now a huge, international, well respected business organization, and are the main lobby force against whaling. The IWC takes them seriously and they are guests at each IWC annual meeting. In some respects, it’s understandable why they choose not to go about ramming and engaging pirate whaling operations.

    Sea Shepherd is nowhere near as accepted internationally as Greenpeace, and we are not a lobbying business. However, not too much attention worldwide goes to the ongoing whaling problem, and not too many people even know about it (hence we put up blogs like this). And while lobby groups talk, Japan aims to illegally kill 1,000 whales every year. So, while the clean-cut business men talk, we go to physically stop the whaling. And each time we have an engagement, newspapers around the world report about it, and suddenly people start asking questions about whaling and why it’s still going on, and then Japan is forced to defend its illegal enterprise.

    And, lo and behold, every time we have a huge newspaper article about our battles at sea, who is it that buys the equally as huge ads that sit on the other side of the newspaper page? Greenpeace. As much as the two organizations hate each other, we work together in a strange way as much as we don’t like to admit it. We force the whaling issue into the open by legal (but seen often as extreme) means, and Greenpeace is able to capitalize off of the attention we bring to whaling. Thus, the sovereign nations of the IWC are forced to take the anti-whaling stance more seriously each year, thanks to the existence and work of both anti-whaling groups.

    So, even though Greenpeace and Sea Shepherd hate each other, and even though the title of “vegan pirate” may come off as juvenile, politically both organizations do need to exist. They both need to exist for whaling in general to come to a stop faster, and for whales to stop being killed in the short run.

    As for how to join the Sea Shepherd crew, here’s the crew application page:

    Thanks again for all your comments and concerns, and is you have any more questions, do keep them coming!


  4. Comment by


    on #

    (also, if “ramming” and “don’t cause damage during engagements” seem mutually exclusive, they actually aren’t, when considered from a legal standpoint. Like when we rammed the notorious whaling ship the Sierra, the Sierra was an illegal pirate ship to which no one would claim ownership, so ramming it was legally like ramming a rock in the water. When the Robert Hunter and the Yushin Maru No. 2 rammed each other last year, no charges were brought up on us, because the Robert Hunter’s captain actually tried not to hit the Yushin but the Japanese occasionally take runs at us)

  5. Comment by

    Roseann Marulli

    on #

    I’m all for a multipronged approach when it comes to stopping abuse and killing. Go, vegan pirates! And I’m happy to pitch in so you can get to your next project, Tod. Hope others will do the same.

  6. Comment by


    on #

    i dont feel the vegan pirate title is juvenile at all. and i don’t think aspiring to be one is either. i learned of the concept through this very blog and drew my inspiration for the dream on the idea of the modern day vegan pirate, a protector of the lives of sea creatures.
    if someone thinks that is juvenile then i’d hate to know what their idea of adult is.

  7. Comment by


    on #

    if they say it is allowed then i think it is allowed because ofnthe quota

  8. Comment by


    on #

    the nisshin maru is allowed i think because of what they say