Some of our very best friends on earth, including my Darwin Animal Doctors nonprofit co-founder Andrea Gordon, are about to risk their lives, going on Sea Shepherd’s latest whale protection campaign in Antarctica, Operation Divine Wind. The odd thing is that a few months ago, after Japan ended its 2011 whaling season early due to Sea Shepherd anti-whaling activities, Japan announced it was halting its Antarctic whaling program indefinitely. So Operation Divine Wind technically should not have needed to happen. However, Japan’s Antarctic whaling program recently got an unexpected financial boost that allowed it to start up again this year. Specifically, Japan’s government took tsunami victim relief funding, and spent it on military funding for the Japanese whaling fleet.
Japanese whalers fight Sea Shepherd Conservation Society volunteers. Copyright Sea Shepherd
Japan took 2.28 billion yen ($29.4 million USD) that was raised and earmarked to help victims of the Japanese tsunami disaster, and used that money to beef up military security for the Japanese Antarctic whaling fleet, in order to combat Sea Shepherd volunteers. The Sea Shepherd flag ship, the Steve Irwin, cost less than two million USD total in comparison, although it has been successful thus far in repelling the military weaponry of the Japanese fleet anyway (which has included guns, grenades, and LRADs). But this new military funding taken from disaster relief funds dwarfs previous years’ military funding for the Japanese whaling fleet.
The Japanese whaling fleet left port in Japan this week, and is on its way to Antarctica now. So the Sea Shepherd fleet, currently in Australia, will depart to protect whales from the whaling fleet in the next couple weeks.