Skip to Content

Sea Shepherd declared “pirates” days after boats collide in Southern Ocean

The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals has declared Sea Shepherd “pirates” and ordered them to stay away from Japanese whaling vessels two days after a Sea Shepherd boat collided with Japanese boats. Sea Shepherd had been previously ordered by that court to stay 500 yards from Japanese vessels.

The court reversed a lower court’s decision that denied an injunction and didn’t declare Sea Shepherd pirates, and identified “[t]he district judge’s numerous, serious and obvious errors” and The AP reported that the court “took the rare step of ordering the case transferred to another Seattle judge to comply with its ruling Monday.” (Sea Shepherd is headquartered in Washington state.)

The 9th Circuit judge wrote, in part,

“You don’t need a peg leg or an eye patch. When you ram ships; hurl glass containers of acid; drag metal-reinforced ropes in the water to damage propellers and rudders; launch smoke bombs and flares with hooks; and point high-powered lasers at other ships, you are, without a doubt, a pirate, no matter how high-minded you believe your purpose to be.”

A Sea Shepherd spokesperson told The Guardian that the label is “ludicrous” since “tehre is no personal gain, and there’s no violence.”

Meanwhile, on Monday, the Bob Barker either rammed a Japanese boat or was “sandwiched and rammed,” as Sea Shepherd claimed in a video of the confrontation. The Institute for Cetacean Research released video saying the “SS Bob Barker rammed the Japanese vessel” when it was trying to refuel.

How and/or if this makes the new season of Whale Wars is a mystery, primarily because Animal Planet/Lizard Trading Company cameras are not on board the ships; instead, Sea Shepherd hired crews to film this season.

It is fascinating how both organizations describe the same incident using different language, and Sea Shepherd’s language is particularly hilarious, as it says their boat “peacefully blocks the whalers’ factory ship, Nisshin Maru, from refueling” and “gets helplessly tossed side to side between the two larger ships.” Judge for yourself, though this clip is Sea Shepherd’s footage:

All reality blurred content is independently selected, including links to products or services. However, if you buy something after clicking an affiliate link, I may earn a commission, which helps support reality blurred. Learn more.

More great stories

About the author

  • Andy Dehnart is the creator of reality blurred and a writer and teacher who obsessively and critically covers reality TV and unscripted entertainment, focusing on how it’s made and what it means.


I value our community at reality blurred, which connects people through open and thoughtful conversations about the TV we’re watching and the stories about it.

Comment rules: My goal is for us to be able to share our perspectives and exchange ideas in a welcoming, supportive space. That’s why I’ve created these rules for commenting here. By commenting below, you confirm that you’ve read and agree to them.

Happy discussing!