Southern Ocean Whale Sanctuary

Bluebird red-carded from Antarctic waters

Posted by jossc — 30 October 2008 at 12:29pm - Comments

Oriental Bluebird, left, refueld the whaling factory ship Nisshin-Maru in the Southern Ocean Whale Sanctuary, 2007

Oriental Bluebird, left, refuels the whaling factory ship Nisshin-Maru in the Southern Ocean Whale Sanctuary, 2007

The Japanese whaling fleet's key supply vessel, Oriental Bluebird, has been de-flagged and fined following a legal ruling by Panamanian authorities, where the ship is registered. The owners of the former oil tanker, used to refuel the fleet in the Southern Ocean and to ship whale meat back to Japan, were fined the maximum penalty after being found guilty of:

  • using the ship for purposes it was not licensed for (ie carrying whale meat rather than oil)
  • violating the MARPOL convention (a treaty designed to eliminate the deliberate, negligent or accidental release of oil and other harmful substances from ships into the marine environment) after illegally refuelling whaling vessels in Antarctic waters.

A peak experience with the humpbacks

Posted by jossc — 9 January 2008 at 6:07pm - Comments

Earlier this week, Esperanza's crew awoke to find themselves surrounded by at least 50 humpback whales feeding in the Southern Ocean Whale Sanctuary. Leandra, one of the scientists on-board, captured some rare and unique underwater sounds as part of our ongoing research programme.

The crew were also able to get closer to the whales using the ship's inflatables, and to shoot some wonderful footage of the humpbacks at very close range, both in and out of the water courtesy of ace videographer Gavin.

Personally I'm seriously jealous. If whale-watching is your thing (and how could it not be?) then it doesn't get any better than this!

Southern Ocean scenes

Posted by jossc — 4 January 2008 at 5:29pm - Comments

Still no contact as yet between our ship Esperanza and the Japanese whaling fleet as the Espy heads further and further south on her mission to save as many minkes as possible from the whalers' harpoons. She's passing through some of the most glorious and unpolluted seascapes this world has to offer at the moment, though, and our photographers have been out and about in inflatables to capture the magic, so I thought I'd share a few with you.

esperanza in southern ocean

Wow factor: In this shot it's hard not to be impressed by the sheer size of this ice cliff rising almost verically out of the sea.

Humpbacks safe - for now

Posted by jossc — 2 January 2008 at 3:34pm - Comments

A majestic humpback whale off the coast of Tonga

The Japanese government has confirmed a rumour first reported at the Greenpeace weblog, that they've abandoned plans to kill humpback whales in the Southern Ocean this season.

The fact that no humpback whales will be hunted down and killed in the Southern Ocean Whale Sanctuary this year is good news indeed, and a victory for Greenpeace supporters the world over who have joined with us in demanding action from their governments, participated in promoting non-lethal alternatives to whale research through our Great Whale Trail, and questioned the Japanese government directly about plans to expand the whale hunt through the building of a new whaling ship. (Oh, and all of you who told your friends to vote for Mister Splashy Pants in our whale-naming competition, you did your part too.)

On the trail of the humpbacks

Posted by jossc — 12 October 2007 at 12:45pm - Comments

A Humpback whale swims past the Cook Island whale research boat, enjoying the warm water and the protected reefs of Rarotonga (Cook Islands)

Greenpeace has linked up with two scientific research bodies, Cook Islands Whale Research and Opération Cétatés, to tag and track humpback whales as they migrate from their breeding and calving areas in the tropical South Pacific to the feeding grounds of the Southern Ocean.

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