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Surfers kayak for a month with humpback whales to raise awareness against whaling

November 3, 2009 | 11:41 am

Transparentsea environmental campaigners protest the actions of Japanese whalers from aboard kayaks in Sydney Harbor.

Renowned Australian surfer Dave Rastovich and three others are nearing completion of a monthlong kayaking expedition with humpback whales and their calves in an attempt to bring attention to the dangers marine mammals face as they migrate past Australia en route to the Southern Ocean for the Antarctic summer.

Commercial fishing methods, industrial runoff, noise pollution, ship strikes and human interaction are some of the dangers. Other whales, notably minke whales, also are migrating and they'll soon be targeted by Japanese whalers, who in turn will be harassed by Capt. Paul Watson and the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society.

Rastovich, co-founder of the group Surfers for Cetaceans, spearheaded a 435-mile journey that includes San Diego's Chris Del Moro. Musician Will Conner and photographer Hilton Dawe are also part of the odyssey.

The crew, sailing aboard red trimaran kayaks, began Oct. 1 at Byron Bay and arrived today in Sydney Harbor. It will officially conclude its mission Thursday at nearby Bondi Beach. The campaign is called Transparentsea.

Said Rastovich: “The primary intention of our journey has been to highlight the plight of whales that are destined for the Southern Ocean and the inevitable visits by Japanese whaling fleets. As surfers, we have a direct connection with these amazing creatures and during the past 30 days, we’ve had the fortune of interacting with them, almost on a daily basis.
“Now we are calling on people to show their support and to join us in putting pressure on the Australian government, lead by Prime Minister Kevin Rudd and our Minister for the Environment, Peter Garrett, to uphold their pre-election promise to challenge Japanese whaling in international court and to protect the Southern Ocean sanctuary.”

The surfer and his group plan to celebrate with Sea Shepherd crew members, who are in Australia preparing for their sixth campaign against the Japanese whalers. Japan's whaling effort is carried out under a research loophole in the wording of an international moratorium on whaling.

-- Pete Thomas

Photo: Transparentsea environmental campaigners protest the actions of Japanese whalers from aboard kayaks in Sydney Harbor. Credit: Fetch/Transparentsea