Cruising Antarctica 2009 – Cruise Ship Groundings, Whaling and Anti-Whaling

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December 6, 2008

mv ushuaia in better times

As the weather cools in the northern hemisphere the most southern continent gets the slightest bit hospitable and the war against mother nature begins again. For those new to gCaptain here’s a recap of last year’s events:

The season started with the resupplying of McMurdo station. We posted video of the event and gCaptain forum member Skoidat69 brought us this photo from his ship the USNS Lawrence H. Gianella:

The whaling season was soon in full swing but before harpooning nature’s largest creature a breakthru of science was made. We reported:

 Reports Small Cetaceans Data T Shepherdi T.Shepherdi2

Revealing once again how little we know about our oceans’ inhabitants, researchers announced discovery of two new marine species, including a Dwarf Killer Whale in Antarctica and a new species of beaked whale in the tropical pacific. Loren Coleman has more over at Cryptomundo. From one of his posts about these animals:

But before we had the chance to bring you more good news three groups with a single mission, to stop the Japanese whaling fleet, but drastically different approaches

The non-violent group:

The Esperanza

Greenpeace’s M.V Esperanza (Spanish for “hope”), the latest and largest vessel in the Greenpeace fleet, named by none other than there cyberactivists.

The armed but non-violent group:

Customs Ship Ocean Viking

AUSTRALIA spied on the Japanese whaling fleet using an armed P&O cruise ship. The vessel, M/V Oceanic Viking, which has a re-enforced hull to cut through ice, a crew trained for polar conditions and “super-telephoto” lenses to record the whale slaughter.

The unarmed but (kinda) violent group:

Keeping watch: The Sea Shepherd vessel Steve Irwin patrolling in the Southern Ocean.

Steve Shepard brought the M/V Steve Irwin, a 59-meter (195 ft) former conservation enforcement ship. Sea Shepherd had previously christened the vessel the MV Robert Hunter after Canadian Robert Hunter,[2] co-founder of the Greenpeace Foundation, but was renamed in honor of Crocodile Hunter host Steve Irwin.

A television show was created during their adventure. CLICK HERE for the videos and details.

While announcements were made with varying reports of success, none of the efforts stopped the slaughter of whales:

http://gcaptain.com/wp-content/uploads/2008/12/japan_whaling.jpg

The end result – mother nature fought back. She began targeting “Eco-Tourists” traveling on antarctic cruise ships. While many problems where mentioned the cause for each sinking it boiled down to this: too many people thought this was their last chance to see the ice flows and booked cruise ships in large numbers. The large cruise ship operators got in on the game and, to keep the interest of paying passengers, the smaller ships were forced closer to the views. The result was this:

http://gcaptain.com/wp-content/uploads/2008/01/reuters-pics-of-yr-07-mv-explorer.jpg

(Details Here)

A New Year

A new year bring new excitement and it’s starting early. Two big news items have already come out of the area:

mv ushuaia in better times

The NYTimes tells us:

On Thursday, the M.V. Ushuaia, an Argentine-registered vessel carrying 82 passengers and 40 crew members, was not so lucky. The Ushuaia ran aground off the coast of Antarctica at 10 a.m. local time and suffered a puncture in two diesel fuel tanks, according to Steve Wellmeier, executive director of the International Association of Antarctica Tour Operators.

In a report that was viewed by The New York Times, Mr. Wellmeier wrote that “it was believed only a small amount of leakage has taken place before the flooding seawater sealed the tank.”

He added in a telephone interview from his office in Providence, R.I., that the ship did not appear to be taking on water. Continue Reading…

In whaling news we received this news tid-bit:

Actress Daryl Hannah is joining Captain of the Steve Irwin Paul Watson and his crew on their latest voyage.

The LA Times tells us:

Daryl Hannah, pictured at left with John Schneider in the recent TV movie “Shark Swarm,” is more concerned about whales these days.

In fact, the actress more famous for “Splash” and “Blade Runner” reportedly is headed or soon will head to Antarctic waters from Brisbane, Australia, aboard a Sea Shepherd Conservation Society vessel sent to spare whales from Japanese hunters.

A Japanese vessel has already departed for its annual slaughter of hundreds of whales, despite international opposition. In reality, governments do very little to discourage hunts that the Japanese claim are being carried out in the name of science.  Continue Reading…

So that’s the introduction… stay tuned for the main event: Antarctica 2009

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