Sea Shepherd, whalers’ boats collide; Whale Wars was Animal Planet’s most-watched show
Whale Wars ended its first season as Animal Planet’s most-popular series ever, and if a Friday confrontation between Sea Shepherd and Japanese whalers is any indication, the second season will be just as popular. During the fall, the reality series had “the best performance of any series in the network’s history among Adults 25-54 (529,000 viewers) and Men 25-54 (309,000 viewers),” according to the network, while its finale had 1.011 million viewers.
Exactly one week after the dramatic season finale, there was a post-Christmas confrontation that included two boats making contact. Both Sea Shepherd and Japanese whalers have issued dueling press releases about the incident that use dramatic adjectives of course, as one-sided as possible, but they preview the conflict we’ll see next season.
The Institute of Cetacean Research says [PDF] that on Dec. 26, “the Kaiko Maru was undertaking a detour in the ice pack area after completing the day’s research activities” when, in foggy weather, “[t]e Steve Irwin rammed the Kaiko Maru from the starboard rear side and spent a number of hours in dangerous close-quarter harassment of the Japanese vessel, repeatedly overtaking and circling the Kaiko Maru.” While the boat’s “topside starboard rear bulwark was damaged by the Dutch vessel’s ramming,” the ICR says “no hindrance to its present operation and research activities has occurred.”
The Sea Shepherd’s version is considerably different, saying that “As the Steve Irwin came alongside the starboard side of the Kaiko Maru, the whaler steered hard to starboard and struck the Steve Irwin lightly crushing part of the aft port helicopter deck guard rails on the Sea Shepherd ship. There was no serious damage to either ship.” In a separate release, Sea Shepherd says the Japanese “have not been whaling since Sea Shepherd located them and they are not whaling now. They continue to flee.”