Sunday, February 12, 2012

Full Steam Ahead As Tanks Get Low

Sea Shepherd plugs on, relentlessly chasing the Japanese factory ship Nisshin Maru.
Leader Paul Watson says the group's long-range vessel Bob Barker had used some of its own fuel to top up the Steve Irwin, which now has enough to stay at sea into next month. BB is leaving the pursuit to take on more fuel "from an undisclosed location".
The pursuit began in mid-December and Watson estimates there're another 50 days left in the whaling season. SI has clocked up 13,000 nautical miles and BB 14,500nm: "We're sending BB back, because it has greater fuel capacity and can bring back enough fuel for both ships to remain with the whalers until the end of the season." Makes SS doesn't have the luxury of rendezvousing with a resupply tanker like the nasty Nippons do.
The activists are within 100nm of NM, off Antarctica's unclaimed Marie Byrd Land (about halfway between NZ and South America), so it's logical to assume BB will arrive in a NZ port in the next week.
Antarctic weather remains mainly stormy. In fact, Watson describes it as "the worst season for bad weather we've experienced in the eight seasons we've been down here. They've had little time to hunt whales and I'm confident if we remain here until the end of the season, that we'll have an enormous impact."
At the same time, both SS vessels are still being tailed by Japanese vessels - the harpoon ship Yushin Maru No.3 following SI, and the security ship Shonan Maru No.2 behind BB.
SS believes it's been able to disrupt the refuelling of NM by the resupply ship Sun Laurel, due to its proximity to the factory ship. Watson says both SL and NM are fuelled with bunker C heavy fuel oil - outlawed south of 60 degrees last year by the International Maritime Organisation. Kiwi turncoat Glenn Inwood, mouthpiece for the Institute of Cetacean Research, rose to the bait: "Nisshin Maru does not use heavy fuel oil during the JARPA II research programme. This is a statement of fact."
Japan has not yet revealed numbers of how many whales have been caught - that figure won't be released until the fleet returns to port, but its odds-on that it'll be another financially disastrous year! Shame...
PS: 16 Feb.2012 - BB has arrived in Wellington, and is taking on supplies until the 19th., when it's back to the fray.

No comments: