'Steve Irwin' boarded, police seize whale kill video


By Anne Mather

The Mercury

February 21, 2009

Home ... the Steve Irwin is welcomed to Hobart shortly before police boarded / Picture: Sam Rosewarne

Log book, video confiscated by police

Video shows whale "being shot seven times"

Activists hope they end up in court

POLICE boarded the anti-whaling ship Steve Irwin when it arrived in Hobart last night and confiscated the ship's log book and video footage.

The film depicts some of the most dramatic whale-killing scenes ever seen, crew on the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society ship told Hobart's Mercury. http://www.themercury.com.au/article/2009/02/21/56935_todays-news.html

Tasmanian crew member Andrew Perry said the video footage was harrowing because the Japanese whalers had become more brazen by the end of the hunting season and for the first time slaughtered a whale in full view of the Steve Irwin.

Mr Perry said the footage, taken from the ship's helicopter, showed a whaler's explosive-tipped harpoon piercing a whale. "The whale was then pulled alongside the (Japanese) boat and it was shot seven times with a shotgun."

He said the helicopter crew, filming for TV documentary show Animal Planet, then saw the whale thrashing and could hear it screaming.

Mr Perry said the slaughter took more than 20 minutes. "It was an incredibly distressing thing to behold," he said. "We have never been able to get footage like that before. It's going to be damning."


After violent clashes with Japanese whalers in the Southern Ocean, the Steve Irwin was met by Australian Federal Police when it docked in Hobart about 5.30pm. The police, who had search warrants, kept the crew on board as they searched cabins.

Steve Irwin captain Paul Watson said he was not told whether the police action stemmed from a complaint by the Australian Government or from the Japanese.

He said the Steve Irwin had never been searched before but he would welcome any charges that led to the crew facing a court. "My position is that if they want to put me on trial for anything connected with this, then I am happy to do it," Capt Watson said.

"We are not there protesting, we are down there to stop a blatantly criminal activity, to stop whaling in a whale sanctuary. These actions have to go to court somewhere, so let's start it here."

Capt Watson said the conservationists had risked their lives during the campaign and were willing to risk their freedom.

He said the campaign had ended four days earlier than intended because it was clear the Japanese whalers were "out of control". "They were frustrated, violent and attacking us," he said.

"I didn't want to get any of them killed or any of us killed."

The Australian Federal Police could not be contacted last night, though Tasmania Police confirmed federal officers met the ship.

The Steve Irwin was involved in its most extreme and dangerous clashes this season, culminating with the activist vessel crashing into the stern of the Yushin Maru 3 on February 7. http://www.news.com.au/story/0,,25015995-2,00.html

Capt Watson's crew said they were pelted with scrap metal, blasted with high-powered water canons and attacked with military-grade sonic weapons.

Mr Perry, of Hobart, said one of the reasons the Steve Irwin had concluded the campaign and returned to Hobart was because they had heard the Japanese had deployed a security vessel to track down the activists and seize the footage.

"We heard they had a commando boarding team whose objective was to find us and board us," he said.

He said the Sea Shepherd crew never intended to harm any of the whalers but simply to pester them and act as a deterrent.

Read more on this story at The Mercury. http://www.themercury.com.au/