Sea Shepherd’s current Antarctic campaign was going well for the whales. The crew was able to locate the whaling fleet before the ships even reached the Southern Ocean Whale Sanctuary thanks to donated drones, and the organization continues to report that no whales have been killed this season. However, the Shepherds were hit with some bad news.
The Brigitte Bardot suffered serious damage when hit with a rogue wave. The Steve Irwin has escorted the vessel and crew safely back to port in Fremantle, but it looks like the Brigitte will not be returning to Antarctica. According to WA Today, the vessel will have to stay docked for repairs for up to three months, while the Steve Irwin will soon head back to defend the whales.
Brigitte Bardot ship manager Simon Ager said, “We were going through anything between six and eight metres, and then we had a rogue wave of 11 metres, it just came right over and kicked us really hard. There was a massive crack in the pontoon and then and there I knew it was game over, and we weren’t going to be staying down in Antarctica, and it was one of those moments where it was all hands on deck. Unfortunately this vessel that performed so well last year isn’t going to go back, I don’t think.” Ager added that it was likely the worst weather he’d been in and thought the boat might flip at one point. He, along with Captain Jonathan Renecle and ship engineer Vincent Vandendridssche will be remaining while the other crewmembers return with the Steve Irwin.
Captain Paul Watson and the Steve Irwin crew will stay to refuel and replenish supplies before sailing. Ager says, “We wanted to get back to Antarctica, it’s a great campaign. It’s going to be hard seeing the Steve sail off again without us.”
The crew report that they were followed by one of the whaling ships, the Shonan Maru #2, which came in close while the Brigitte Bardot was refueling. “They came in for a close look, when we had to refuel. It was a dangerous situation, we were paralysed, we’re trying to take on fuel, we can’t go anywhere. There was a bit of a moment there where we were wondering what was going to happen.” Sea Shepherd believes the ship is still in Australian waters.
Meanwhile, Sea Shepherd reports that the Bob Barker has stayed close to the whaling fleet and will continue with the campaign while waiting for the Steve Irwin to return.