Smile for the Camera! The Japanese Whaling Fleet is Intercepted by Spy Drones on Christmas Day

Peter Brown steve irwin drone sea shepherd
Second Mate Peter Brown launches the drone from the Steve Irwin

The Sea Shepherd crew has intercepted the Japanese whaling fleet on Christmas Day, a thousand miles north of the Southern Ocean Whale Sanctuary.

The Sea Shepherd ship, Steve Irwin, deployed a drone to successfully locate and photograph the Japanese factory ship Nisshin Maru on December 24th. Once the pursuit began, three Japanese harpoon/security ships moved in on the Steve Irwin to shield the Nisshin Maru to allow it to escape.

This time however the Japanese tactic of tailing the Steve Irwin and the Bob Barker will not work because the drones, one on the Steve Irwin and the other on the Bob Barker, can track and follow the Nisshin Maru and can relay the positions back to the Sea Shepherd ships.

“We can cover hundreds of miles with these drones and they have proven to be valuable assets for this campaign,” said Captain Paul Watson on board the Steve Irwin.

The drone named Nicole Montecalvo was donated to the Steve Irwin by Bayshore Recycling of New Jersey, and Moran Office of Maritime and Port Security, also of New Jersey.

Captain Watson having received reports from fishermen when the Japanese ship passed through the Lombok Strait waited south of the strait at a distance of 500 miles off the southwest coast of Western Australia. Sea Shepherd caught the whalers at 37 degrees South, far above the Southern Ocean Whale Sanctuary.

Eleanor Lister Steve Irwin sea shepherd
Eleanor Lister – Quarter Master on the Steve Irwin – British Citizen from Jersey

“The chase is on for the next 1000 miles,” said Quartermaster Eleanor Lister of Jersey (U.K.).

With the Steve Irwin taking up the resources of three of the Japanese ships the Bob Barker remains clear of a tail and the Brigitte Bardot is clear to scout out the factory ship, having superior speed to the harpoon vessels.

The Sea Shepherd crew have found the Japanese whaling fleet before a single whale has been killed.

“This is going to be a long hard pursuit from here to the coast of Antarctica,” said Captain Watson. “But thanks to these drones, we now have an advantage we have never had before – eyes in the sky.”

More about the Steve Irwin Drone can be found on the Sea Shepherd website here.