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New 'Whale Wars' season begins as Sea Shepherd seeks Japanese fleet

December 8, 2009 |  8:20 am

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Capt. Paul Watson of the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society embarked Monday in an effort to locate Japanese whalers in the Antarctic region and disrupt their hunts.

The campaign also marked the beginning of Animal Planet's third season of "Whale Wars." For the third time, a film crew has joined Sea Shepherd in a Southern Ocean campaign that will last into February. The series premiere will be in June.

Is Animal Planet in this for the cause, or purely for the ratings?

Marjorie Kaplan, president and general manager of Animal Planet, said in a news release being issued today: "The issues surrounding whaling in the southern ocean are important and complex. The majesty of these beautiful creatures and the lengths to which the Sea Shepherds will go in order to prevent whaling has made WHALE WARS intense and vital television. 

"We are excited to be on the Sea Shepherd boats again this season for what looks likely to be an even more dramatic campaign than in years past.  And, as in prior seasons, we wish we could capture the experience on the Japanese boats as well but our request for access continues to be declined.”

Japan, which employs a "lethal research" loophole in the wording of an international moratorium to justify its hunts, annually targets nearly 1,000 minke whales and about 50 endangered fin whales.

It will take awhile for the Sea Shepherd's flagship vessel, Steve Irwin, to reach the whaling grounds and locate the whalers, but Outposts will follow the story and provide updates as warranted.

-- Pete Thomas

Photo: Sea Shepherd's ship, Steve Irwin, collides with the stern of Japanese harpoon whaling ship Yushin Maru No. 2, while the factory ship the Nisshin Maru, background, processes a minke whale. Credit: Adam Lau/Sea Shepherd

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