Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Operation No Compromise: Ups And Downs

Sea Shepherd has had 24/7 eyes on two of the three Japanese whalers for 32 days, during which time these have not killed a single whale. This means the fleet's efficiency has been cut by two-thirds!
Three harpoon ships usually kill 8-9 whales daily, when weather, ice and whale availability allow. If all three are at full efficiency in excellent conditions, that's up to 240-300 whales per month. With two of the harpoon ships out of the hunt, the very most whales the remaining harpooner Yushin Maru 1 could take would be three per day, approx.90 a month. However YM1 has been constantly fleeing or relieving one of the other tailing harpooners for 50-75% of the time. So SS estimates its maximum efficiency to be 50%, and minimum 25%. SS thinks this solitary vessel only had 5-6 days in which to hunt, which may mean only 15 whales killed, maximum. Excellent news!
On the 'down' side, in just the last few days SS was unable to prevent the refueling of the nasty Nippon factory ship Nisshin Maru. After herding the tanker Sun Laurel out of immediate reach, SS dropped the chase (but not before planting a tracking device on it) and continued to look for the factory ship. Once discovered, NM smashed its way through dangerously thick ice to escape: SS could not physically pursue due to those conditions.
The tracker on the tanker showed it turned back southwest, which meant NM was heading that way to refuel. Everything looked good for Steve Irwin and Bob Barker to intercept again, except for one unpredictable factor…ice! Despite charts confirming the path was clear, both BB and SI were delayed by heavy floe ice. By the time they got through, NM had already refueled.
Steve Irwin, dwarfed...
So February's situation is: Gojira has returned after repairs and is scouting for NM. BB continues to do the same, with its tail Yushin Maru 3 nearby. SI is off to NZ to refuel, with Yushin Maru 2 following. YM2 will take a few days to return, and hopefully G will have located the factory ship by then. SI will be back mid-February with fresh provisions for BB and G crews: it'll have enough fuel to last until the end of the season in March. BB (with much larger fuel capacity) will also be able to remain on site that long, as will G (by refueling from BB or SI).
Sea Shepherd intends to make February as successful as January for interventions. YM3 is out of the hunt for as long as it tails BB. G should find NM again, and guide BB to it. SI will lose YM2 before reaching NZ, and so will return to the whale sanctuary without a tail. And so the chess match continues...

The Good Guys:
BB = Bob Barker (looking for Nisshin Maru)
SI = Steve Irwin (off to NZ to refuel)
G = Gojira fast interceptor (looking for Nisshin Maru)
The Bad Guys:
NM = Nisshin Maru factory ship
YM1 = Yushin Maru 1 harpooner (hunting with NM)
YM2 = Yushin Maru 2 harpooner (tailing SI)
YM3 = Yushin Maru 3 harpooner (tailing BB)

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