The Whale Warriors: The Battle at the Bottom of the World to Save the Planet's Largest Mammals [NOOK Book]

Overview

Author of the New York Times bestselling novel The Dog Stars

For the crew of the eco-pirate ship the Farley Mowat, any day saving a whale is a good day to die. In The Whale Warriors, veteran adventure writer Peter Heller takes us on a hair-raising journey with a vigilante crew on their mission to stop illegal Japanese whaling in the stormy, remote seas off the forbidding shores of Antarctica. The Farley is the flagship of the Sea Shepherd ...
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The Whale Warriors: The Battle at the Bottom of the World to Save the Planet's Largest Mammals

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Overview

Author of the New York Times bestselling novel The Dog Stars

For the crew of the eco-pirate ship the Farley Mowat, any day saving a whale is a good day to die. In The Whale Warriors, veteran adventure writer Peter Heller takes us on a hair-raising journey with a vigilante crew on their mission to stop illegal Japanese whaling in the stormy, remote seas off the forbidding shores of Antarctica. The Farley is the flagship of the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society and captained by its founder, the radical environmental enforcer Paul Watson. The Japanese, who are hunting endangered whales in the Southern Ocean Whale Sanctuary, in violation of several international laws, know he means business: Watson has sunk eight whaling ships to the bottom of the sea.

For two months, Heller was aboard the vegan attack vessel as it stalked the Japanese whaling fleet through the howling gales and treacherous ice off the pristine Antarctic coast. The ship is all black, flies under a Jolly Roger, and is outfitted with a helicopter, fast assault Zodiacs, and a seven-foot blade attached to the bow, called the can opener.

As Watson and his crew see it, the plight of the whales is also about the larger crisis of the oceans and the eleventh hour of life as we know it on Earth. The exploitation of endangered whales is emblematic of a terrible overexploitation of the seas that is now entering its desperate denouement. The oceans may be easy to ignore because they are literally under the surface, but scientists believe that the world's oceans are on the verge of total ecosystem collapse. Our own survival is in the balance.

With Force 8 gales, monstrous seas, and a crew composed of professional gamblers, Earthfirst! forest activists, champion equestrians, and ex-military, the action never stops. In the ice-choked water a swimmer has minutes to live. The Japanese factory ship is ten times the tonnage of the Farley. The sailors on board both ships know that there will be no rescue in this desolate part of the ocean. Watson presses his enemy while Japan threatens to send down defense aircraft and warships, Australia appeals for calm, New Zealand dispatches military surveillance aircraft, the U.S. Office of Naval Intelligence issues a piracy warning, and international media begin to track the developing whale war.

For the Sea Shepherds there is no compromise. If the charismatic, intelligent Great Whales cannot be saved, there is no hope for the rest of the planet. Watson aims his ship like a slow torpedo and gives the order: "Tell the crew, collision in two minutes." In 35-foot seas, it is a deadly game of Antarctic chicken in which the stakes cannot be higher.
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Editorial Reviews

Library Journal

Some people are so highly dedicated to defending endangered species that it occasionally takes them to the point of fanaticism. Such activists include the captain and crew of the Farley Mowat, a self-proclaimed pirate ship run by the Sea Shepherd Society (which some law-enforcement organizations have identified as ecoterrorists). Adventure writer Heller tells the story of his two-month cruise with the Farley Mowatto the Antarctic in search of the Japanese whaling fleet in order to stop their illegal hunting. There is a lot of nail-biting action, plus good information, both political and direct, on the whale species and the efforts to keep commercial whaling illegal. The author's reflections on his doubts about the methods of Capt. Paul Watson and his crew are especially well expressed. Readers who enjoyed G. Bruce Knecht's Hooked: Pirates, Poaching, and the Perfect Fishshould also like this one. Recommended for college and public libraries where interest in marine policy, Antarctica, or whales and whaling is high.
—Margaret A. Rioux

Kirkus Reviews
The author's account of his December 2005 voyage with a radical captain and crew who risk their lives to halt the Japanese whale hunt off Antarctica. Greenpeace may garner most of the headlines in the battle to save the whales, but the real commandos in this ongoing war sail for the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society, whose passionate volunteers aren't content with passive resistance. In this stirring account, Heller (Hell or High Water, 2004, etc.) describes his two-month journey aboard the Sea Shepherd's 180-foot converted trawler, Farley Mowat, and its running battle against a fleet of Japanese whalers. Capt. Paul Watson and his mostly vegan 43-member crew aren't the shy retiring types. They fly the Jolly Roger from the ship's mast, brew their own moonshine to celebrate New Year's Eve in an Antarctic blizzard and exclude no strategy in their quest to save whales from slaughter by the persistent Japanese. Measures include everything from trying to entangle the whale ship's propellers with steel cables to tossing foul stink bombs onboard to sicken their crews. The Farley Mowat also comes equipped with a steel-reinforced bow, used for ramming the much larger Japanese whalers head-on. Watson, one of the founders of Greenpeace, tired of watching endangered whales die while the organization merely unfurled protest banners. Considered a "lunatic" and an "eco-terrorist" by his enemies (and possibly by some who'll read this book), placed on the "piracy watch list" by the U.S. Office of Naval Intelligence, his full-frontal assaults against both whaling and seal hunting have made him revered by his supporters and crew. Watson justifies his radical measures by pointing out that although commercialwhaling has been officially banned by the UN Charter, the Japanese continue to ruthlessly kill hundreds of whales each year under the guise of "scientific research." In fact, Heller argues, the whales are merely slaughtered for Japan's fish markets, a crime made even more senseless by the fact that polls indicate the Japanese consumer doesn't even like whale meat. In fact, the Japanese whaling industry loses money every year. Still, the Japanese whalers persist, refusing to back down in the face of mounting international pressure. A convincing, passionate account that both educates and infuriates.
From the Publisher
"Indifferent to expense, hardship, or personal peril, Peter Heller has once again gone to the ends of the earth to give us a roistering good adventure narrative. In Captain Paul Watson, he has found an outrageous character of the high seas, a kind of modern anti-Ahab. Fearless, irascible, and immune to the concept of compromise, this spirited eco-vigilante is as refreshing on the page as he is feared and dreaded among the world's illegal whale poachers. Like its protagonist, Heller's tale moves along at full ramming speed." — Hampton Sides, author of Ghost Soldiers and Blood and Thunder

"Two parts high-seas swashbuckle and one part inconvenient truth." — Surfer magazine

"A story so fantastic it eclipses fiction." — Santa Fe Reporter

"A rollicking adventure with political commentary on the plight of whales sprinkled throughout. It's hard not to be gripped by a book that contains breathless passages of imminent danger." — Audubon

"A convincing, passionate account that both educates and infuriates." — Kirkus

"Heller's eye-opening book...is both a riveting account of Heller's two months aboard the small, dilapidated trawler with a ragtag group of volunteers risking their lives to incapacitate a six-boat fleet of Japanese whalers and an explanation of the politics that keep commercial whalers operating." — The Malibu Times

"The book is a swift kick to any remaining complacency about the plight of our oceans..." — National Geographic Adventure

"Heller paints a passionate picture of the plight of the world's oceans and the creatures who dwell within them. The book almost certainly will raise the reader's consciousness and ire." — Rocky Mountain News (Denver)

"[Heller] does a masterful job of balancing the journalistic details of this voyage with background — sympathetic, but not fawning — on Watson and his crewmembers and the larger issues that Watson's crusade raises." — Riverfront Times (St. Louis)

"The adventure and the all-star cast of characters aside, the heart of this book is Heller's gripping account of the world's oceans. Aboard the Farley Mowat, Heller gains insight into the claim that if current fishing practices and pollution trends continue, 'every fishery in the world's oceans will collapse by 2048.'" — Sacramento News & Review

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781416546139
  • Publisher: Free Press
  • Publication date: 9/18/2007
  • Sold by: SIMON & SCHUSTER
  • Format: eBook
  • Pages: 288
  • Sales rank: 948,641
  • File size: 3 MB

Meet the Author

Peter Heller
Peter Heller is an award-winning adventure writer and long-time contributor to NPR. He is a contributing editor at Outside magazine and National Geographic Adventure and the author of Hell or High Water: Surviving Tibet's Tsangpo River. He lives in Denver, Colorado. He can be reached at peterheller.net.
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Read an Excerpt

The Whale Warriors

The Battle at the Bottom of the World to Save the Planet's Largest Mammals
By Peter Heller

Free Press

Copyright © 2007 Peter Heller
All right reserved.

ISBN: 9781416532460

Storm

At three o'clock on Christmas morning the bow of the Farley Mowat plunged off a steep wave and smashed into the trough. I woke with a jolt. The hull shuddered like a living animal and when the next roller lifted the stern I could hear the prop pitching out of water, beating air with a juddering moan that shivered the ribs of the 180-foot converted North Sea trawler.

We were 200 miles off the Adélie Coast, Antarctica in a force 8 gale. The storm had been building since the morning before. I lay in the dark and breathed. Something was different. I listened to the deep throb of the diesel engine two decks below and the turbulent sloshing against my bolted porthole and felt a quickening in the ship.

Fifteen days before, we had left Melbourne, Australia, and headed due south. The Farley Mowat was the flagship of the radical environmental group, the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society. The mission of her captain, Paul Watson, and his forty-three member all-volunteer crew was to hunt down and stop the Japanese whaling fleet, which was engaged in what he considered illegal commercial whaling. He had said before the trip, "We will nonviolently intervene," butfrom what I could see of the preparations being conducted over the last week, he was readying for a full-scale attack.

I dressed quickly, grabbed a dry suit and a life jacket, and ran up three lurching flights of narrow stairs to the bridge. Dawn. Or what passed for it in the Never-Night of antarctic summer: a murky gloom of wind-tortured fog and blowing snow and spray -- white eruptions that tore off the tops of the waves and streamed their shoulders in long streaks of foam. When I had gone to sleep four hours earlier, the swells were twenty feet high and building. Now monsters over thirty feet rolled under the stern and pitched the bow wildly into a featureless sky. The timberwork of the bridge groaned and creaked. The wind battered the thick windows and ripped past the superstructure with a buffeted keening.

Watson, fifty-five, with thick, nearly white hair and beard, wide cheek bones, and packing extra weight under his exposure suit, sat in the high captain's chair on the starboard side of the bridge, looking alternately at a radar screen over his head and at the sea. He has a gentle, watchful demeanor. Like a polar bear. Alex Cornelissen, thirty-seven, his Dutch first officer, was in the center at the helm, steering NNW and trying to run with the waves. Cornelissen looked too thin to go anyplace cold, and his hair was buzzed to a near stubble.

"Good timing," he said to me with the tightening of his mouth that was his smile. "Two ships on the radar. The closest is under two-mile range. If they're icebergs they're doing six knots."

"Probably the Nisshin Maru and the Esperanza," Watson said. "They're riding out the storm." He was talking about the 8,000-ton Japanese factory ship that butchered and packed the whales, and Greenpeace's flagship, which had sailed with its companion vessel the Arctic Sunrise from Cape Town over a month earlier, and had been shadowing and harassing the Japanese for days. Where the five other boats of the whaling fleet had scattered in the storm no one could say.

Watson had found, in hundreds of thousands of square miles of Southern Ocean, his prey. It was against all odds. Watson turned to Cornelissen. "Wake all hands," he said.

nnn

In 1986 the International Whaling Commission (IWC), a group of seventy-seven nations that makes regulations and recommendations on whaling around the world, enacted a moratorium on open-sea commercial whaling in response to the fast-declining numbers of earth's largest mammals. The Japanese, who have been aggressive whalers since the food shortages following World War II, immediately exploited a loophole that allows signatories to kill a certain number of whales annually for scientific research. In 2005, Japan, the only nation other than Norway and Iceland with an active whaling fleet, decided to double its "research" kill from the previous year and allot itself a quota of 935 minke whales and ten endangered fin whales. In the 2007/2008 season it planned to kill fifty fins and fifty endangered humpbacks. Its weapon is a relatively new and superefficient fleet comprising the 427-foot factory ship Nisshin Maru; two spotter vessels; and three fast killer, or harpoon, boats, similar in size to the Farley Mowat.

Lethal research, the Japanese say, is the only way to accurately measure whale population, health, and its response to global warming and is essential for the sustainable management of the world's cetacean stocks. The director general of Japan's Institute of Cetacean Research (ICR), Hiroshi Hatanaka, writes, "The legal basis [for whaling] is very clear; the environmental basis is even clearer: The marine resources in the Southern Ocean must be utilized in a sustainable manner in order to protect and conserve them for future generations." Though the ICR is a registered nonprofit organization and claims no commercial benefit from its whaling, critics scoff, pointing out that the meat resulting from this heavily subsidized research ends up in Tokyo's famous Tsukiji fish market, and on the tables at fancy restaurants. By some estimates, one fin whale can bring in $1 million.

Each year the IWC's Scientific Committee votes on whaling proposals, and at its annual meeting in 2005 it "strongly urged" Japanese whalers to obtain their scientific data "using nonlethal means," and expressed strong concern over the taking of endangered fins, and humpbacks from vulnerable breeding stocks. The whalers' response was silence, then business as usual.

Although this resolution is not legally binding, much of the public was outraged that the whalers would openly disregard it. The World Wildlife Fund contended that all the research could be conducted more efficiently with techniques that do not kill whales. New Zealand's minister of conservation, Chris Carter, among others, described the Japanese research as blatant commercial whaling. Even dissenters within Japan protested: Mizuki Takana of Greenpeace Japan pointed to a report issued in 2002 by the influential newspaper Asahi in which only 4 percent of the Japanese surveyed said they regularly eat whale meat; 53 percent of the population had not consumed it since childhood. "It is simply not true that whaling is important to the Japanese public," Takana said. "The whaling fleet should not leave for the antarctic whale sanctuary."

To Watson there is no debate. The Japanese whalers are acting commercially under the auspices of "bogus research" and therefore are in violation of the 1986 moratorium. Even more controversially, the whaling occurs in the Southern Ocean Whale Sanctuary, an internationally ordained preserve that covers the waters surrounding Antarctica as far north as 40°S and protects eleven of the planet's thirteen species of great whales. Although research is permitted in the sanctuary, commercial whaling is explicitly forbidden. The whalers are also in clear conflict with the Convention on the International Trade of Endangered Species (CITES). And although the killing area in 2006 lay almost entirely within the Australian Antarctic Territory, the Australians, while protesting, seemed to lack the political will to face down a powerful trading partner. It irks Watson that Australian frigates will eagerly pursue Patagonian toothfish poachers from South America in these same waters, but will turn a blind eye to the Japanese whalers. "It sends a message that if you're rich and powerful you can break the law. If the Australian navy were doing its job," he said, "we wouldn't be down here."

Watson has no such diplomatic compunctions. He said, "Our intention is to stop the criminal whaling. We are not a protest organization. We are here to enforce international conservation law. We don't wave banners. We intervene."

Whaling fleets around the world know he means business. Watson has sunk eight whaling ships. He has rammed numerous illegal fishing vessels on the high seas. By 1980 he had single-handedly shut down pirate whaling in the North Atlantic by sinking the notorious pirate whaler Sierra in Portugal and three of Norway's whaling fleet at dockside. He shut down the Astrid in the Canary Islands. He sank two of Iceland's whalers in Reykjavik harbor, and half the ships of the Spanish whaling fleet -- the Isba I and Isba II. His operatives blew open their hulls with limpet mines. To his critics he points out that he has never hurt anyone, and that he has never been convicted of a felony in any country.

Copyright (c) 2007 by Peter Heller



Continues...


Excerpted from The Whale Warriors by Peter Heller Copyright © 2007 by Peter Heller. Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

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Table of Contents


Storm     1
Prelude     6
The Farley Mowat     8
The Good Captain     19
Final Preparations     34
Salt     45
Lifeboat Drill     69
Hobart     74
Southern Ocean     88
Ghost     105
Ice     118
The Whale Spoke to Justin     138
Uninvited Guest     152
Force 7     173
Force 8     196
The Law of the Sea     223
Flight     241
The Definition of a Pirate     245
Among the Penguins     253
A Good Day to Die     262
Epilogue     274
Acknowledgments     277
Index     279
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