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'Whale Wars' is back and so is controversial Capt. Paul Watson


Capt. Paul Watson, whose Sea Shepherd Society has drawn praise and harsh criticism for its sometimes confrontational encounters with Japanese whalers, says of the second season of the Animal Planet series, "Whale Wars," which debuts tonight at 9 p.m.: "It ought to be 10 times more dramatic and exciting than last year."

That's because last year's shows, which were based on the 2007-08 exploits of Watson and crew, contained very little drama and excitement. This year it'll be different because Watson's 2008-09 campaign against whalers in the Antarctic included numerous confrontations -- including three collisions and a very dramatic pursuit through ice -- with Japanese crews that regard Sea Shepherd as a terrorist group.

"They were very aggressive toward us -- the most aggressive I've ever seen them -- so it's a far more dramatic season for that reason," Watson said in an interview this week.

Sea Shepherd's tactics are to disrupt the months-long hunt and any efforts by whalers to transfer harpooned whales onto the processing ship. 

Japan employes a research loophole in the wording of an international whaling moratorium to justify the hunts, which annually target nearly 1,000 minke whales and 50 endangered fin whales. Minke whales are not endangered and the country for generations has sold whale meat at market. Whaling, Japan has argued, is deep-rooted in the nation's culture.

Watson, one of the co-founders of Greenpeace, is either revered or despised for the controversial methods he employs. Greenpeace and other whale conservation groups consider his efforts too confrontational and potentially perilous. Watson counters that Sea Shepherd doesn't violate laws and has not injured anyone. He has lots of critics and does not care.

"People think we're sort of arrogant in what we do," he said. "But as I always say, our clients are whales and we don't really care what people think. We're more concerned with what the whales think. Find me a whale that disagrees with what we do and I'll reconsider."


During the 2008-09 hunt (summer in the Antarctic), Japan fell 305 minke whales short of its quota, so Sea Shepherd is taking credit for saving those whales. The whalers killed only one fin whale, so Sea Shepherd is saying it saved 49 fin whales.

"We saved 500 whales the year before, 500 whales the year before that and 83 whales the year before that," Watson boasted.

Japan, which requires a high quota to profit from these hunts, has fallen short in recent years but remains steadfast and some believe it will announce, later this month, its intention to add endangered humpback whales to its quota list.

Sea Shepherd also remains steadfast. Watson said his crew will greet the Japanese fleet in 2009-10 with three vessels instead of one, enabling a longer and more effective campaign because it will allow for a constant presence, whereas with only one vessel there is a need to make long refueling voyages.

Asked if having film crews aboard embolden his crew to a dangerous level, Watson responded: "That's absolutely not true. We can't control the Japanese and the problem is one-sided. Those guys are trying to kills us and their government will defend them if they do. But we have to take every precaution to ensure we don't injure any of them. It's a very one-sided battle and I have to be very careful."

--Pete Thomas

Photos, from top: Paul Watson; "Whale Wars" videographer Jamie Holland braces for an evasive maneuver aboard an inflatable boat as a Japanese whaling ship bears down. Credits, from top: Animal Planet; Sea Shepherd.

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Comments (117)

These guys are idiots, risking the lives of everyone on both sides. Think the captain believes he is doing some good with this, but he isn't. A big waste of money and donations that could be better spent else where, and know none of my hard earned money will be donated to these nuts. Yes, save the whales, but lets do it without this waste of money.

BUHAHAHAHAHAHA what a bunch of losers. Like im against killing whales but what the hell have they even done that helps this problem. Telling lies and pegging stink bombs on the ship OH i cant forget about the running into the ship a few times, what a bunch of losers.
If anything they just set the japanese back a few hours, GOOD WORK GUYS YOU SAVED ALOT OF WHALES TODAY BY WASTING A FEW SHORT HOURS. They should get real lives and hair cuts while their at it and let REAL MAN deal with this problem.
I cant believe how much they suck.

The Sea Shepherds are a bunch of hypocrites. They're launching projectiles and paint balls from a potato gun yet when the Japanese start shooting something at one of the Delta boats, they cry foul. Paul Watson even shot some flairs at one of the other boats. What would happen if that landed on the deck and caught fire? Paul Watson even said "we have a right to defend ourselves" but what are they defending themselves from? If they weren't out there causing an extremely dangerous situation, he wouldn't have to defend anything.

One of the girls even said that this is a real war. I think she needs to pull her head out of her ignorant you know what. I'm a Marine and went to Iraq and our Battalion came back with three less Marines that were killed in action. They call the Sea Shepherds the Soldiers who wage war against whaling but they are nothing but fools that could potentially hurt or kill innocent lives, including their own.

Now I don't want to see any whales getting killed but there are other more mature ways to handle it. Paul Watson was probably beat up as a kid and wants to seek revenge on anyone that won't fight back.

The majority of you are pathetic idiots. Do you gullible fools REALLY think that these guys on the S.S. even care about the whales, much less have any effect stopping the predations of the whalers? First of all, this "whale sanctuary" is an international (which is a good clue that it has no effect) sanction recognized by a sum total of FOUR nations! Even so, the Japanese whaling is allowed under those sanctions. This whole battle is about EGO. Just watch the trailers, "this isn't about whales, its about a group of diehards on a mission," Seriously? Watson gathers these gullible and idealistic fools out of pitiful ignominy and manipulates them to accomplish his little terrorist plans. They don't stop whaling, and the whales aren't even endangered! All of you need to THINK and not get taken in so easily by these personal little money making scams. Don't you think the 5 million just donated for one of his new vessels could have been better used negotiating true international sanctions or feeding some of the millions starving across the world? Again, pathetic.

There are two rational ways of assessing the efforts of the Sea Shepherds as documented by "Whale Wars." The first concerns the authority by which they seek to disrupt Japanese whaling. Steve Watson et al point to the International Whaling Convention (IWC) which in 1986 established a moratorium on commercial whaling, and in 1994 created the Southern Ocean Sanctuary. However, Watson's group ignores two facts. First, the moratorium clearly exempts whaling performed for scientific research. Second, the IWC is strictly a voluntary organization of nations that choose to belong. It has no legal authority.

Because the Japanese whalers have clearly stated that they are doing scientific research, their whaling is not prohibited by the IWC. Notice that I do say that it is not illegal because the IWC has no authority to establish legality.

Watson's Sea Shepherds don't care about this exemption. They view any whaling as wrong, so they take it upon themselves to endeavor to impede Japanese whaling by throwing bottles of acid and fouling propellers.

The second way of assessing their endeavors is to measure their effectiveness. I say endeavors because not one of their strategies works. The bottles of acid hit netting and fall harmlessly into the sea. The prop fouling attempts are ineffective. Whales are successfully harpooned and delivered to the factory ship right in front of the people who are supposed to be protecting them.

Why are their results so inept? Anyone who watches "Whale Wars" can see that the Sea Shepherds are an ardent group of dedicated people who bring plenty of commitment, but very little ability. Their decision making and execution are inept and farcical enough to be more appropriate on the Comedy Channel. These free spirits lack the ability to work in a coordinated manner or even give adequate instructions. It is amazing how many ways these self-proclaimed sea police manage to torpedo their own operations and resemble the Keystone Cops, instead. Therefore, the Japanese whalers likely find the Sea Shepherds only mildly annoying.

If the whales are dependent on this bunch for protection, their future is dismal, indeed.

Anyone that illegally boards a ship and then cries that they've been "kidnapped" when they are detained, loses all credibility in my book. I think that whaling is a despicable practice, but the Sea Shepherd Society's actions are almost enough to make me support the other side of the argument. It's really unfortunate that they are turning off a large majority of the population that would otherwise support their cause. Watson and his gang are vigilantes, not heroes. It wouldn't surprise me if the folks cheering him on this board also think that Al Qaeda was justified in the 9/11 attacks.

I think the people here should watch the Penn and Teller episode called "Endangered Species."

Paul Watson is an idiot.

Japanese are aggressive and dangerous? SS is the one who drives dangerously close to the Japanese vesseles, make 180 and charge at them, cut them off...etc
Japanese just want to do their job. What SS is doing is terrorism.

Why is killing whales so bad? Because they're beautiful, intelligent and cool? What about cows, pigs, chickens? Its ok to kill those? Just because its not in our culture, it doesnt make it wrong.

What happens when there are no more whales? Some of the species that the whalers are harpooning are endangered, yet they still kill them. We as a human race are killing our own planet. We are destroying the rainforest, our oceans and the life that lives in it, we are sucking earth dry of its natural resources. Next we'll be turning on each other, wait...we all ready have! What will our future generations have to survive? If we keep up the way we are going, the answer is nothing. Anyone who fights for our planet is a hero! The Sea Shepherd and it's crew understand the dangers that they take when trying to stop the whalers, that's a choice they make and I thank them!

Forget the right or wrong of whaling for a moment and focus on risking the lives of these totally under trained kids on this vessel. The Captain is saying their lives are no more important then a whales and he continues to up the ante until he gets one of them killed. Whoever funded the ship and turned it over to these people and the Animal Planet will all be responsible for the ultimate deaths that will result.
Countries pass and enforce laws not vigilantes. This won't end good.

I am 48 yrs. old almost and one of the most precious time i have ever experienced was living on my sailboat and enjoying the company of free porpouses ( bottle nose dolphins. ) I no longer have a boat and can no longer enjoy them in person. I am on low fixed income and can barely feed myself. But I have no family or ties of any kind and if i was honerd or blessed enough I would love to help these wonderful beings.

My boyfriend and I watched this film for the interest of it won a oscar. But we are both touched in the end. Human will never face the bad things they are doing or totoally ignoring them. In the film,the hurted dolphin try so hard to escape make me fell sorrow. I'm from Shenzhen, China. The local people like to eat dog meat and the cook just hang the unskined dog on the transparent window to attack more people come to taste. It's barbarous as the japanese fishmen in The Cove. When you used to live cruelly you may think it's resonable. For the efforts from lots of dog persons, Shenzhen goverment reject the permission of allowing the dog meat sale in the supermarket. That's also a victory. So i believe even the strenght of individule is limited. But unity make powerful.

stop whale slaughter! save these creature,they should belong to sea.

IM 26yrs old here is a fact IF whales are not important and animals are not important then neither are humans espically babies, most of every living creature can FEEL and has a HEART and that gives them(animals-sea life ) the right of protection. U kill animals and sea creatures u are a MURDER n should be LOCKED up and STUDIED . STEVE WATSON and crew keep on ROCKIN u guys are doing a great job.

MR. Steve Watson is AWSOME that is what u call a MAN. A terrorist is someone who murders innocent creatures ,hmmmm.....Japan dont even get me started about Canada those poor seals and whales and all the sea life , I just dont get it Im a lover not a fighter but i think if they want to harm, kill innocent animals why dont they just kill there family's n friends y not they kill an animal that has a heart and feelings. I was watching an episode my stoumach was turning I cant belive people murder these beautiful animals I'm ashamed of being a human.

I've never seen the show, but it doesn't take a brain surgeon or a rocket scientist to understand that whaling is wrong. Hmmm... lets blow a small hole in a huge mammal, bring it on to a ship and carve pieces out of it while it is still alive and feeling every bit of agonizing pain in a process that can literally take hours before the intelligent animal is finally able to die. It doesn't take Einstein- but it does take someone with a conscious. Even if you are for other types of hunting- you (whoever you are) should be against this one.

I watched many of the Whale War shows from inception with interest and never really took one side or the other. What I now notice is that Watson is taking more and more risk with a crew that appear to be vastly under trained for what is expected of them. Some examples, launching the Delta boats in high seas as the SS is streaming along. This is an extremely dangerous maneuver done by a crew that doesn't have a clue. This year when the ship went in for repairs it looked as if 50% or more of the crew was replaced, and their replacements looked to be even more inexperienced then who they replaced. The show when they went through the ice field; if this was not staged then Watson should be arrested for attemped murder for taking a ship into an ice field with such a weak hull. Launching the Delta in the dark on high seas. Again, if not staged, which I think it was staged for drama effect, then also very dangerous. I just think that 60-70% of the dangerous things that are done are staged for effect; look how dangerous what we do is! Two last things, it appears that Watson never leaves his room and is also banging away on his computer. What the hell is he doing all the time? He can't be sending out press releases all day. I live in Philly and read the two daily papers cover to cover every day and can't remember a story about the SS ever appearing in the paper. And when he does show his head and goes on the deck for about the only time I can remember he is shot, and what a miracle he has a bullet proof vest on and wow it hits him right where he is also wearing a metal badge!! What a load of crap! This convienced me that much of this show is staged and is a sham. Here is soemthing ironic; Watson's blind rage against the Japanese reminds me of another whaler named Ahab, we should start to call Watson Baha an opposite madman just like Ahab....its pretty fitting for this guy......

These anti-whaling wackos need to be stopped. They cry and moan at the death of a whale that will go to feed many families. What about the thousands of fish and krill that these whales kill and eat every day? Who is standing up for them in favor of the starvation of these massive predators? Poor little helpless krill. Everything survives by killing something else. Vegetarians kill thousands of helpless, beneficial plants that clean our air and surround us with beauty. They pick and choose which life is important to them. These whales feed many families and it is in the whalers' best interest to see the population thrive and be managed responsibly for harvest. These eco-nuts are hypocrites, it's conservationist hunters that seek to use the earth responsibly. How many gallons of fossil fuel do your hi-tech boats and helicopters use? How many plants and animals die each day to give you sustenance? How many trees died to build your boat? How many trees died so you could wipe with something other than your hand? Modern day advancement is the only reason you have the luxury to be as loony as you are and we put up with your lunacy. In a survival situation, would you allow yourself and your children to die cold and hungry or would you cut down a tree to burn and and kill an animal to eat? Whichever you choose is fine with me, just don't impose your terrorist practices and backwards politics on me and force me and my family to freeze and starve. Life and death is a reality of nature. God created the lion to kill zebras and giraffes. God created alligators which kill and eat antelope and water buffalo. It may be grotesque and you may choose to disagree with it but it doesn't change reality.

I've never in my life have been a tree hugger, but coming up on age 50, I'm seeing the damage done by humans, and it's starting to bother me. It's time for the world to stop the killing of whales, seals, and other innocent animals. The governments of the world need to step up to the plate, "don't be afraid of what any one person thinks" stop this stuff now. In the past, I've thought of Paul Watson as a GEEK, DORK, & MORON. But now, I've changed my opinion of him, not completely, but quite a bit. I support what he is doing, the only thing I thing he's doing wrong is, he's not aggressive enough. I say get some torpedo’s..... Bring on a few ex-navy seal frog men. Put a whale harpoon on the bow of the Bob Barker and Steve Irwin, and use it on the whalers..... Come on people, this foney blockade aint workin'.

O, and just an idea for the stink bombs, USE WATER BALLOON LAUNCHERS, THEY WORK GREAT.....!

I think the TV show Whale Wars may be a little lame at times, but what I think is good is, it's showing the world what is happening to the whales of the world. These whales are the citizens of every country, they travel and visit us all, not just the Japanese.

Oh, and to the Japanese, the world has, and is still changing; it's not OK nowadays to be out killing whales. So by doing so, you are shamming yourselves, and we all know what the Japanese are supposed to do when they shame themselves..... RIGHT.....!

Good Luck Sea Shepard,


I don't support whaling at all. And almost everyone knows the Japanese aren't doing "research". But I do value human life over a whale's life. Apparently some enlightened thinkers on the comment board would rather have people killed to save the whales. The only thing Watson is going to accomplish is get one or more of his crew killed, kill Japanese whalers by ramming and/or disabling their boats in a very dangerous sea and garnish a bunch of negative publicity for an otherwise legitimate cause. Three episodes of "Whale Wars" was about all it took for me to figure out that Watson is a tool and most of the crew weren't exactly expert mariners except the lady with naval experience who nobody on the ship listened to anyways. Weird, I wonder why they kicked Watson out of Greenpeace. Donating money to Sea Shepherd is the same as throwing it directly into the ocean.

the Gil got pwned. Score 1 for the japanese.

I do not take any solace in whales being hunted. However, Paul Watson and his group are maniacal, fanatical twits. The bottom line is simple: they Japanese are well within their right to hunt these animals for scientific testing or meat - it does not matter. They have the opposable thumbs, therefore the whales lose. And by the way, to all the bleeding hearts outh there that think whale meat is disgusting and that Japan should turn a blind eye to its culture...get over it. Should we stop eating beef because the the cow is sacred to Hindus, or pork because it offends Jew and Muslims alike? No, we should do what we do, and they should be left to do what they do. Stop imposing your BS political correctness on the rest of the world...or have the last 9 war filled years taught you nothing about how little the world cares for or values our opinion???

please take me with your ship.
whale wars??
you guys must be not so soft and fight a little harder.
i have a lot of time and give my life for saving the whale.
and believe me.i will attack seriously with a good end

so mail me

greets quintos

hey mike, when all the whales are extinct who is going to make up for the presence they have in the food chain. The whales are not one animal group we can just let die. Son when you and your family are crying over the heat, you can all go to hell.

After watching the whale war, I can feel for Paul Watson and his crew and the many people like them. I believed that these whales should be left alone. There are many other fish that can be eaten beside whale. SO LEAVE THEM WHALES ALONE FOR HUMAN KINDNESS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!



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Outposts' primary contributor is Kelly Burgess.