Sea Shepherd, whalers’ claims “impossible to verify,” AP says, ignoring Whale Wars

Is it possible that the Associated Press has no knowledge of Animal Planet’s outstanding reality series Whale Wars, which documents the Southern Ocean battles between Sea Shepherd conservationists and Japanese whalers?

It certainly seems like that, because in a story about Sea Shepherd finding the whaling fleet–before they were able to start whaling–the AP’s Kristen Gelineau writes, “Every year, Japan and Sea Shepherd make claims of aggression against each other, but the accounts are generally impossible to verify.”

Impossible to verify? The series, which is not mentioned at all in the article, makes it very possible to see exactly what happens during many of those confrontations. Producers Lizard Trading Co. haven’t been able to get whalers to agree to allow cameras on board their ships, so the perspective is limited to what the cameras capture aboard the Sea Shepard ships and helicopter, but with, for example, the collision with the Ady Gil, the footage made it very clear what happened. (By the way, the Sea Shepherds have a new interceptor ship to replace the Ady Gil: It’s called Gojira.)

And the reality show’s crew is independent, so it’s not as if the show is propaganda. Speaking of, the series documents Sea Shepherd Paul Watson’s use of the media, and this AP story largely sounds like it fell for his sensationalizing a pretty common event: the news it focuses on is that “Japanese whalers shot water cannons at anti-whaling activists on Saturday,” which as anyone who’s watched the series knows is about the least newsworthy thing that will probably happen this season. Most newsworthy is that they found the fleet before the whaling began.

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about the writer

Andy Dehnart is a journalist who has covered reality television for more than 15 years and created reality blurred in 2000. A member of the Television Critics Association, his writing and criticism about television, culture, and media has appeared on NPR and in Playboy, Buzzfeed, and many other publications. Andy, 36, also directs the journalism program at Stetson University in Florida, where he teaches creative nonfiction and journalism. He has an M.F.A. in nonfiction writing and literature from Bennington College. More about reality blurred and Andy.