Friday, January 8, 2010

Whale Wars: Video Analysis

Now that the shock is subsiding, let's pause to examine the collision between Sea Shepherd's Ady Gil and the Japanese whalers' Shonan Maru 2. Both sides were filming the action, both released videos to the world to support their own positions and here're both in synchronicity...

1. In the lower video taken from Shonan Maru 2, you see Bob Barker in the background (Steve Irwin being then 500 miles away, returning from refueling in Tasmania). BB's wake is visible, and it’s seems to be moving on the same heading as SM2.
2. Judging by the changing perspective on the background clouds, it also appears SM2 makes a starboard turn at the start of the SM2 video, which means that the video from BB starts after the turn is initiated. On the BB video, at .08" and.12", SM2 makes two more changes to starboard...that's a total of THREE intentional changes in order to get very close to Ady Gil.
3. The SM2 [max.speed=12kts] is travelling much faster than the AG [max speed=45kts]: this is obvious from the amount of spray and movement of SM2. If both vessels had remained on their respective courses (as initially seen), SM2 would have passed well to port and moved ahead of AG.
4. AG's wake is virtually non-existant and her bobbing action supports the claim that she was almost at a stand-still.
5. Given the effect the wave action is having on SM2, I doubt there is precise control over the ship's heading throughout: while the higher speed gaves the rudder more bite, the impact of hitting waves at speed pushes the bow from side-to-side as well as up-and-down. So it is conceivable the Japanese skipper was intending a close pass to just scare AG rather than ram her, but that’s no excuse: his actions, his responsibility.
6. The commentary from BB (the woman's nervous laugh, the man's expletives) is what I’d expect: they sound awed and a bit excited at what is happening, like witnessing a car crash.
7. The continued water cannon blasts from SM2 as the crippled AG drifts away seems callous at least.
8. The International Regulations for Preventing Collisions at Sea 1972 (COLREGS) details several rules which both sides have disregarded here.

Considering these points, I place the blame for the collision on SM2. However, if events outside the immediate collision lead-up are factored in, Sea Shepherd must face the consequences of its own actions. It went hunting the hunters with the stated intent of harrassment and disruption: this is the outcome of that intent. You can't sink a rainbow!
This incident will not stop either side, but possibly has gained SS some legitimacy (just as was gained by Greenpeace, after the French sank the Rainbow Warrior with limpet mines in Auckland Harbour, 1985).
I am neither a marine expert nor a video analyst, so my assessment of these clips is "layman". I maintain that whaling must cease, but worry how much further these Whale Wars will escalate before that end comes.
PS: 12 Jan.2010 - More video footage, this time from aboard Ady Gil itself, as she is rammed...!

1 comment:

Conrad, Brisbane said...

Being a "layman" myself, I find myself in agreement with your assessment of these videos.
I look forward to the outcome of the investigations that are now underway. However, if the whalers are found to be at fault, I doubt it would stop them at all.