Last year, we wondered if maybe Sea Shepherd was building up a robot army to help them find the Japanese whaling fleet in the Southern Ocean. The organization was reportedly looking into robotically-controlled flying cameras, equipped with both GPS and video/still cameras. As it turns out, the Sea Shepherds have indeed had some robot help this year.
According to a SSCS press release, the crew manning the conservation org’s new drones was able to intercept the whaling fleet before they even hit their destination. The ships were located roughly one thousand miles north of the Southern Ocean Whale Sanctuary.
Whaling factory ship, Nisshin Maru, was found and photographed by a drone named Nicole Montecalvo, launched from the Steve Irwin. The drone was donated by Bayshore Recycling and Moran Office of Maritime and Port Security, both in New Jersey. Drones on the Steve Irwin and Bob Barker have enabled the crews to have the Nisshin Maru’s position relayed to them, and rendered the factory ship unable to escape from the Sea Shepherds. Captain Paul Watson said, “We can cover hundreds of miles with these drones and they have proven to be valuable assets for this campaign. This is going to be a long hard pursuit from here to the coast of Antarctica. But thanks to these drones, we now have an advantage we have never had before – eyes in the sky.”
The Sea Shepherd ships will continue to follow the whaling fleet as the ships move toward the whale sanctuary. As Steve Irwin Quartermaster Eleanor Lister said, “The chase is on for the next 1000 miles.” Three whaling vessels are spending their time and fuel tailing the Steve Irwin, while the Bob Barker is unfollowed, and the super-fast Brigitte Bardot will be heading for the factory ship. The anti-whaling activists are optimistic about the campaign.
According to ABC News, Jeff Hansen of Sea Shepherd Australia said of their technology used to find the fleet, “This is a very effective tactic that we did last year, it was so effective that the whalers went home over a month early and called it quits and we saved 858 whales out of a possible 1,035. This year we’re sitting for a full, complete victory in the sense that no whales will be killed and that’s our mission.”
According to Bayshore Recycling, their drone has also aided Sea Shepherd’s bluefin tuna campaign off the coast of Libya. The company says, “BRC stresses the importance of conserving our planet’s natural habitats. Whether it is saving natural resources, conserving energy, preserving endangered wildlife or recycling household debris—Bayshore rises to the challenge. Together, BRC and the SSCS will fight to save the ocean and its vulnerable inhabitants.”
Below, you can see another photo taken by drone Nicole Montecalvo, of security guards aboard the Shonan Maru #2 as the closely watch the Sea Shepherds.