domingo, 27 de fevereiro de 2011

Commentary and Editorial

Photos: Barbara Veiga

Saturday, February 26, 2011

A Terrible Tempest in an Unforgiving Sea

Commentary by Captain Paul Watson

"The worst has happened, all the day dreams must go, Great God! This is an awful place."-British Antarctic Explorer Robert Falcon Scott
The Steve Irwin takes a beating from the fierce Antarctic seas.The Steve Irwin takes a beating from the fierce Antarctic seas.
The Steve Irwin takes a beating from the fierce Antarctic seas.
photos: Barbara Veiga
The storm that claimed the Norwegian yacht Berserk was an awesome display of nature’s power. Three vessels experienced that tempest with three different outcomes. The 14-meter yacht Berserk with her three crewmembers most likely did not stand a chance when the fury of the winds funneling down from Mount Erebus slammed into them with what Lieutenant Commander Simon Griffith of the New Zealand Naval ship Wellington described as 182 km/h winds that "exploded off the Ross Ice Shelf." A good choice of words considering that the storm literally went off like a bomb, without notice and without much chance for avoidance or preparations.
The Berserk and her small crew were at the epicenter of the very white squall, but when their distress signal went off, two other ships were drawn into the witches brew in and around McMurdo Sound. The Wellington and her crew of 55 sailors were the closest, and the Sea Shepherd ship Steve Irwin and her crew of 38 was the next closest vessel. In total, 96 people experienced that storm of which three did not survive.
In response to the Mayday signal, the newly commissioned ice-strengthened New Zealand naval patrol vessel HMNZSWellington turned towards McMurdo Sound as did the Sea Shepherd ship Steve Irwin, conducting a survey of the Ross Ice Shelf some 200 miles to the east.
"As we responded, we were stuck in the most intense storm I have ever encountered in 19 years in the navy," skipper Lieutenant Commander Simon Griffith told the New Zealand media“The intense winds built up 8 meter swells as spray turned to thick ice on the decks. Aerials, lighting, and speakers were swept away.” Griffith reported they even lost their stern light.
Three of their life rafts were ripped off and thrown into the sea, one of which was discovered the next morning by the crew of the Steve Irwin. "We still have enough on board to keep us safe," he says. In the midst of it, Griffith got word of the Christchurch earthquake; he kept it to himself for 12 hours so as not to stress members of his crew any further.
The Wellington struggled into the lee of Mount Erebus but once they entered McMurdo Sound, they got slammed again. "They were the biggest seas I have ever come across,” said Griffith.
The previous Monday, the crew of the Wellington had met the three crew of the Berserk at Back Door Bay, where Shackleton's Hut stands. "They gave us a call and asked us for a packet of cigarettes. We did not have any, but we gave them a cigar," says Griffith. The yacht was warned severe weather was coming. Severe weather however, is normal for this area and even theWellington was surprised at just how severe the storm actually became. "The yacht seemed a very sturdy, oceangoing yacht and they were three cheerful Norwegians."
Berserk leader Jarle Andhoy, 34, and Samuel Massie Ulvolden, 18, were attempting to reach the South Pole to mark the centenary of Norwegian Roald Amundsen's South Pole expedition. The three left on the yacht were Robert Skaane, 34, Tom Gisle Bellika, 36, and South African Leonard Banks, 32.
Berserk needed to get permission from the Norwegian Polar Institute to sail below 60 degrees south. Official Jan-Gunnar Winther confirmed they did not have permission. This was not unusual for Andhoy, who has a reputation in Norway as a maverick adventurer.
Scott Base manager Troy Beaumont said the storm which hit the Berserk and Wellington was "a bit of a dozy."
The Steve Irwin was only hours behind the Wellington and moving at 14 knots towards McMurdo. It was not the worst storm that I have encountered but I only remember two that were more formidable, the first a typhoon in the South China Sea in 1969, and the second, a hurricane force storm off of Labrador in 1998.
It was frightening to many of my crew, although I assured them that our ship was more than equal to the challenge. However, the decks and the port side of the ship were coated in thickening layers of brine ice as the spray frozen in the super chilled air and plastered itself against the steel sides and on the decks adding tons of extra weight that had to be compensated for.
Our bow dove into the seas and plowed into the swells with a force that sent shuddering vibrations throughout the ship. Waves crashed against the port side as if we were being kicked by an enraged titan. The temperatures in the food storage area were so low that the cook had to put produce into the refrigerator to prevent it from freezing. Water pipes burst, and everything, including crew, not tied down flew about the inside making every step hazardous. Two of the crew’s bunks were flooded with freezing water from ruptured water pipes. One of our crew dislocated her shoulder, and another suffered a severe bruise to her arm. It was not a pleasant ride and heading into a storm like that was not practical – but because of the missing Berserk, we had no choice – as mariners we had a duty to respond, and we did.
The Wellington was forced to retreat back to New Zealand. We took over as the primary search vessel and although we were hopeful, those hopes were dashed when we discovered the unoccupied life raft of the Berserk. The Berserk was lost, theWellington damaged, but fortunately the Steve Irwin suffered no damage at all.
I reflected that it was such a small world. I had met Jarle Andhoy, the skipper of the Berserk years ago when he presented his film Berserk at the Telluride Mountain Film Festival. He had sailed solo down to Antarctica at 17 years of age, capsizing his vessel the Berserk I in the Drake Passage, yet skillfully recovering and completing his voyage. He was a very capable mariner. He had sailed through the Northwest Passage in the Arctic. He was not however, on the Berserk when the storm hit and I have no knowledge of the expertise of the crew that was.
It was also an irony that Andhoy and his crew were commemorating the 100th anniversary of Amundsen’s successful discovery of the South Pole. We had been at the Bay of Whales only two days previous to use the centenary as a means of sending a message to Norway to end whaling.
I have to admit I am at a loss to understand why Andhoy and Ulvolden set out for the pole on quad bikes so late in the season. December is the time to strike for the pole, not February. It was the weather of January and February that took the lives of Robert Scott, Edward Wilson, Henry Bowers, Laurence Oates, and Edgar Evans in 1912. By leaving so late in the season they would have endure to endure the increasing ferocity of the approaching Antarctic winter. The scientists and workers from McMurdo were already being evacuated in anticipation of Ross Island being entrapped in ice. The reason for a late February dash to the pole is mystifying but it is not my place to judge Andhoy and his team. Perhaps that was a part of their challenge.
I do know that through experience that nature is extremely unforgiving, terribly so. Nowhere on earth is nature so dominant and cruel as in Antarctica, where the majestic beauty of this silent land shrouded in frigid whiteness proclaims boldly to all challengers that this continent controls those who visit. We do not control it.
I wrote the following poem during a less intense storm off the Antarctic coast in 2008.
The Tempest

This poem was written in January 2008 as the Steve Irwin sailed south to confront the Japanese whaling fleet. I wrote it during the storm in an attempt to capture the emotions of the crew and the groaning of the ship. 

In confidence my ship sailed South,
Oblivious to danger,
I feared not the coming storm,
To such winds I was no stranger.
But amongst my crew were virgin sailors
Some still sea-sick from just the gentle motions,
For them I knew this would be a test,
And fear would dominate their emotions
The mild sea gave way to rising swells,
Whitecaps spit their salty spray
The swells did begin to rise with the tide,
And upon the dark shroud did flay,
The apprentices on the deck looked towards the rising clouds
Young eyes grew wide with growing apprehension.
Lightning crackled in the sky,
There was growing comprehension.
The tempest burst upon us like a bomb,
The wind plucked the lines in a deadly dearth
The winds wailed through the rigging,
And from dark clouds the storm gave birth.
With lightning flash the rains did lash,
And scoured the decks completely clean,
The wind rose to a frightening roar,
And howled forth like a fiend.
Like a Banshee’s mournful deadly wail,
The evil winds did taunt
Disturbing every dead sailor’s bones
From the depths they rose to haunt.
Within the gale we heard them chuckle
The aquatic ghouls put on a grisly show
They sought for us to join them,
To share in their pitiful soggy woe
“Ignore the fiends,” the Captain cried.
“Ignore the sultry Sirens too,
We shan’t be joining them tonight,
No, not this gallant crew.”
The ship did rock and it did roll,
Like a toy boat at the mercy of the gale,
Helpless we watched and kept the course,
Hoping the engines would not fail,
To drive into a Cyclone’s maw,
Is to spit into God’s merciless face,
Prayers and pleads are useless words,
When salt is all you taste.
The wind drives salt from your eyes,
It hurls brine into your frozen face,
Your skin it crawls with the crystals sharp,
This hell provides no safe place.
You watch the bow plunge and dive,
The sea assaults the lonely deck,
The hull it groans and the keel does shiver,
Terrified rats get set to jump the wreck,
The pounding increases as the winds rage on,
Glass is shattered, the lifeboats torn away,
The ship rolls and moans like a dying thing,
And the crew curses every minute of the day.
The savage winds rode on our stern,
The monstrous gale kicked us in our ass,
We surfed upon mountainous seas,
Yearning for the storm to pass.
Salted water flogged us like slaves
As we fought to keep the ship on course,
Blind and deaf we bent our backs,
My God what an awesome force!
Soaked and tired and frozen stiff,
Fingers numb and elbows sore,
Striving to stay awake and alert,
Thank God, we’re far offshore.
I shutter to think what a reef would do,
Such winds would dash us to a crushing hell,
No rocks out here to strike a lethal blow,
Each roll does strike the bell.
Sailors tossed like rag dolls across the heaving sea,
She taunts and teases and scoffs at our displeasure.
Our moans and pains mean naught to her,
Her destruction knows no measure.
And as if to illustrate her rage,
She pelts us with hardened balls of hail,
Then slathers us with hoary rotten sleet,
As the gale continues to scream and wail.
And through the wind blown rain I see,
Just how majestic her power emerges,
Admiration removes all fear,
And I hear the poetry in her howling dirges.
I smile and lick the salt from my lips,
Content to ride this storm to hell,
And in that moment the wind did sigh,
And a calm spread out upon the swell,
The sun pierced the dark grey clouds,
A golden ray did stab the deck and mast.
A rainbow struggled across the sky,
The storm was over at last.
Within hours calm was restored,
The recent past was like a dream,
The violence fled without regret,
From the drying deck rose steam.
A sailors first storm is a nightmarish thing,
Driving fear into the heart and soul,
Once over it reveals just how sweet life really is,
The enlightenment achieved is worth the fearful toll.  

sábado, 26 de fevereiro de 2011

Sea Shepherd News: The Search for the Berserk Continues

Photos: Barbara Veiga

The Search for the Berserk Continues

The Steve Irwin cuts through the frigid Ross Sea waters searching for the Berserk. Photo: Barbara VeigaThe Steve Irwin cuts through the frigid Ross Sea waters searching for the Berserk.
Photo: Barbara Veiga
The Sea Shepherd ship Steve Irwin is heading north from McMurdo Sound and will continue to search for the missing Norwegian yacht Berserk along the western coastline of the Ross Sea.
“We have exhausted all the possibilities, our search has been very meticulous and we have searched all the area three times from the Southern end of McMurdo Sound, north to Franklin Island,” said Captain Paul Watson. “I am sorry to report that we have found only the lifeboat and contents from the lifeboat in two separate locations. The was found 45 miles north of where the distress signal was issued, and it was unoccupied. The contents of the lifeboat were found 10 miles south of where the distress signal was issued. The conditions have been perfect both in the calm flatness of the water, and with visibility of flying conditions. If there were debris, a capsized vessel, or evidence of the missing sailors, we would have found it. In short there was nothing to be found.”
This morning, the Sea Shepherd crew searched the waters around Franklin Island. There is a remote possibility that the Berserk could have been forced northward by the storm; Sea Shepherd will investigate that possibility. The search has not been called off. Sea Shepherd is in contact with New Zealand Search and Rescue and will continue to search for the Berserk until the search is officially called off.
The Sea Shepherd helicopter with pilot Chris Aultman logged 21 hours in the air for this search. Sea Shepherd very much appreciates that the McMurdo base assisted us with helicopter fuel to allow for an extended range for the search. The Steve Irwin searched in a grid pattern covering the entire area of McMurdo Sound. The Steve Irwin also deployed a small boat crew to search areas where the larger ship could not venture.
Emergency drinking water and paddle are recovered by Sea Shepherd. Photo: Barbara VeigaEmergency drinking water and paddle are recovered by Sea Shepherd.
Photo: Barbara Veiga
The Sea Shepherd crew was pleased that weather and sea conditions were absolutely perfect for a search. “Finding a small blue, mostly submerged water packet in such a large area demonstrates just how careful our search has been,” said Steve Irwin sailing master Malcolm Holland from Australia. “If there was anything to be found, we found it.”
Sea Shepherd discovered that the EPIRB (emergency beacon) was inside the vessel. It was designed to issue a distress signal for 24 hours but only transmitted for 45 minutes. It was designed to transmit from a depth of 10 meters and be manually activated. The device was not found. This could mean the device was activated from inside a sinking vessel and stopped transmitting after the vessel sank beneath 10 meters of water. This evidence suggests that the Berserk sank at the position where the distress signal was issued, and that it sank rapidly without the possibility for the crew to escape. The combination of heavy seas, 155-kilometer winds, negative 50 degree Celsius temperatures, deadly ice growlers, and a steel hulled vessel all contributed to this tragedy.
“These were brave men, experienced men, but the odds against them were staggering in the full face of nature’s fury,” said Captain Watson. “They were, however, here in the true spirit of Amundsen, they knew the risks and they chose to take them, and thus all three were masters of their own fate and captains of their own souls.”        
The Sea Shepherd Conservation Society has been honored to participate in this historic search, but we regret that the outcome has not been a happy one.
Captain Watson issued a statement saying, “I do want to thank my crew, especially my sailing master Malcolm Holland from Australia for directing the search operations, Helicopter pilot Chris Aultman of the United States for spending 21 hours searching the area by air, Cassandra Smith from Australia for spotting the life raft, watch officers Nuño Ramos Fernandez of Spain and Luis Correia De Pinho of Australia for their vigilance, Security Officer Jeffrey Milstein of the United States for his rescue operational experience, and photographer Bárbara Veiga of Brazil for documenting the evidence. Thanks also to the rest of my crew for working long hours and their efforts. And a special thank you to New Zealand Search and Rescue for coordinating this effort so efficiently from so far away.”
Search details:
Time the search began:
 0700 hours (NZT), February 24th
Total time of land and sea search by the Steve Irwin: 52 Hours up until 1100 hours February 26th
Helicopter hours flown: 21 hours total, average of 2.4 hours per flight
Distance flown: 1550 nautical miles at an average of 80 knots.
Square miles searched: 3600 nautical miles.
Search area details:From the discovery of the life raft lost by the HMNZS Wellington, to Cape Bird, along the coast to Tryggve Point, and back. Then all of McMurdo Sound from Backyard Bay and Inaccessible, north to Cape Bird, including off the coast from Cape Royds to Cape Bird. Then all the way from Cape Bird to Geiki Bay in excellent search conditions – searching a wide band along the ice edge. From there, due east 20 nautical miles and south back to the vessel. Then a corridor flight parallel to the Steve Irwin in an area west of Beaufort Island where the life raft was discovered, and northward a further 40 nautical miles. Then a search from the point where the Berserk lifeboat was discovered and northward a further 40 nautical miles. The helicopter then searched a track between the lifeboat position and Bird Point. Debris from the lifeboat was found near Horseshoe Bay. The helicopter did a transit near Franklin Island and searched the shallow waters around the island. Finally a northward run up to the 166 E Longitude line near the Ross Sea western shore.

Commentary and Editorial by Captain Paul Watson

Photos: Barbara Veiga

Friday, February 25, 2011

A Cruel Sacrifice Beneath the Dark Slopes of Erebus

Commentary by Captain Paul Watson

Captain Paul Watson and crew send a message to Norway. Photo: Barbara VeigaCaptain Paul Watson and crew send a message to Norway. Photo: Barbara Veiga
(click to enlarge)
We are leaving the Ross Sea now, making our way back 2400 nautical miles to Hobart in Tasmania. It is not a happy departure. Three men, explorers from the Norwegian yacht Berserk, more than likely lie entombed in McMurdo Sound beneath a frigid dark shroud of inky water, churning with newly forming sea ice that is rapidly congealing into an ugly brown salty slush that preludes the reformation of the ice pack, as once again, Antarctica reclaims its frigid grip from a retreating summer.
Bobbing like giant corks, pieces of dense old ice known as growlers may hold the key as to the fate of the Berserk. Ranging in size from a suitcase to a house, these ugly foreboding chunks of cobalt blue, black, and crystal clear boulders of ice bob menacingly like deadly mines just below the surface. A small boat tossed from a heaving sea onto one of these floating horrors can become stove so quickly and efficiently that a vessel could sink within seconds. Not enough time to even get out upon the deck, especially when that deck is being mercilessly flogged with sheets of sharp sea ice in the demonic hand of a horrific southern wind.
A growler can split a steel hull open like it were glass, rapidly sending tons of frigid water into the boat as the sea sucks the vessel down into the briny darkness of the depths, before the sailors even have a chance to comprehend their untimely fate. As the icy grasp of the sea swallows the small boat, the EPIRB and a lifeboat are released with a pressure switch and rise to the surface. It was that distress signal that alerted the world to the fact that the Norwegian 14-meter yacht Berserk with her three crewmembers had disappeared from the world of the living.   
The sea can be a severely unforgiving place, and the Southern Ocean and the Ross Sea in particular can be extremely cruel to mariners.
When I first received word that a marine distress signal had been received from the Norwegian flagged Berserk in McMurdo Sound, I took one look out the wheelhouse window of my ship the Steve Irwin, and thought that if the seas and the weather were anything like what we were experiencing at the time, I could not imagine how awful of a situation the sailors on that tiny boat were in.
The Steve Irwin and Nancy Burnet helicopter amidst the Ross Ice Shelf. Photo: Barbara VeigaThe Steve Irwin and Nancy Burnet helicopter amidst the Ross Ice Shelf. Photo: Barbara VeigaAs it turned out, the situation 200 miles to the west of us where theBerserk was at the time the distress signal was issued, was worse, far worse. The winds were screaming down off the glaciers and the Antarctic Plateau, whipping around Mount Terror and howling down the ice laced black lava slopes of Mount Erebus, funneling into the sound at 155 kilometers an hour. With the wind chill, the temperature had dropped to negative 50 degrees Celsius. There was no doubt those boys were in trouble and they knew it. But all they could have done was ride it out. There was no safe port, no refuge, and no quiet and calm corner of the sound to give them hope. Just Mount Erebus to the east, rising like its dark brooding namesake, to herald a voyage to the underworld beneath the sign that proclaims, “Abandon hope ye shall who enter here.”
As mariners, we did the only thing we could. We responded. The New Zealand Navy vessel Wellington was closer, but had suffered ice damage and was limping back north to New Zealand having had three of their lifeboats ripped from their decks into the howling sea.
British Antarctic explorer Apsley Cherry-Gerrard in his book The Worst Journey in the World, described this area exactly when he spoke of his experiences from Captain Robert Falcon Scott’s base camp on Ross Island in 1911. One hundred years later, not much has changed. The stark white barren hills are as hauntingly beautiful as they are deadly, proclaiming quite boldly that this is a dangerous place of extremes where humans venture at their own great personal risk.
Two days before, I stood on Roosevelt Island, some 20 miles in from the sea from the Bay of Whales on the other end of the indescribably awesome Ross Ice Shelf. It was like the alien surface of Pluto with an eerie whiteness impossible to describe. The winds roared across the stark plateau with a vengeance, whipping my hat off my head and sending it across the polished flatness of the surface faster than I could retrieve it. I wrapped a Norwegian flag around my head to keep my ears from being frostbitten.
I had the Norwegian flag in my hand because we were there to commemorate the landing of Roald Amundsen exactly one hundred years before, as he set up the base camp for his successful race to be the first to the South Pole. We were there because I felt it was an excellent place to announce that now that we had driven the Japanese whalers from the Southern Ocean, it was time to oppose the outlaw whalers of Norway in the North Atlantic. And thus the crew posed with a banner and the Norwegian flag to respectfully honor Amundsen’s achievement, and to appeal to Norway to recognize this achievement by ending the killing of whales.
Truthfully, we were not that optimistic or naïve to expect that our request would be honored, so I felt what better place than the Bay of Whales at Amundsen’s base camp to announce that the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society would be returning to Norway to once again oppose Norwegian whaling. Norwegian whaling is more blatantly illegal than Japanese whaling. The Norwegians have not chosen to insult the world’s intelligence by pretending that they are killing whales for science. In Norway, is it very much about the money and thus it is a violation of the global moratorium on commercial whaling.
We were set to release the photos and the story of the announcement at the Bay of Whales when I received the call from the New Zealand Search and Rescue centre that a distress signal had been received from the Norwegian vessel Berserk. As mariners, the call to assist in the search for the Berserk became our priority.
We turned our bow westward and into the most fearsome onslaught of wind, ice, sea spray, and heaving swells. Erebus, looming over Ross Island, was not going to make it easy to approach the gates of hell as McMurdo Sound had become.
For 16 hours we took on the rage of the sea, until suddenly, the ocean gave up the fight and a calm stillness spread across the horizon as the swells flattened out, the sun beamed down with relative warmth, and visibility became perfect. We launched the helicopter and began a meticulous search pattern of the entire sound, finding nothing until the morning of February 25th when we came across the eight-man Avon life raft from the Berserk drifting 45 miles north of where the distress signal first occurred.
And that was that – except for the life raft and later some ration and first aid packets from the life raft, not a trace of the yacht or her crew, no oil on the surface, no clothing or other debris in the sea.
The tragedy reminded us of just how fragile our lives are and how quickly nature can snatch our most precious possession from us.
It also reminded me that although we landed at the Bay of Whales to send a message to Norway to end whaling, the fact remained that the Norwegian men on the Berserk were still our fellow human beings. We began our search with hope that we could find them, and ended the search in sadness that we had not.
Admunsen escaped the tragedy that took the lives of some of the brave men of the 1911 British Antarctic Expedition. One hundred years later, Antarctica continues to extract its lethal tribute of sacrifice from the human spirit that continues to challenge it.   
All of us on the Steve Irwin, volunteers from nations around the world share the loss of these men with their families and loved ones. We did not know them, but in searching for them we experienced concern, compassion, hope, and remorse. We also deeply felt a connectedness that wherefore they had gone, any of us could follow, and that nature in all her magnificent beauty and demonic fury does not hold favorites. And thus we felt their loss as we glimpsed the fragility that all of us as humans are burdened with.
To their families, we can only say, we tried. We scoured the entire search area three times by air and sea, and we searched for them as if they were our own brothers, for in truth they were!  Brothers united by different goals, but sharing the rare awesome passion for adventure and knowledge that for a century has brought men and women like us to these remote, frozen, and forlorn shores.
The Ross Ice Shelf. Photo: Barbara VeigaThe Ross Ice Shelf. Photo: Barbara Veiga

sexta-feira, 25 de fevereiro de 2011

Sea Shepherd NEWS: The Life Raft for the Norwegian Sailboat Berserk Has Been Found

Photos: Barbara Veiga.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

The Life Raft for the Norwegian Sailboat Berserk Has Been Found

The deck crew and Delta team work together to retrieve the empty life raft. Photo: Barbara VeigaThe deck crew and Delta team work together to retrieve the empty life raft. Photo: Barbara VeigaAt 0957 Hrs. (NZT) Sea Shepherd helicopter pilot Chris Aultman spotted an Avon 8-person lifeboat in the sea at the position of 76 Degrees 40 Minutes and 43.2 Seconds South, and 166 Degrees 01 Minutes and 50.7 seconds East.
The position was only two miles from the Steve Irwin. The lifeboat is being recovered, and the description of the life raft matches the characteristics of one on the Berserk. New Zealand Search and Rescue has been notified.
The liferaft was unoccupied, half filled with water, encrusted with ice and the canopy had been clearly torn half off by strong winds. The condition of the seas at the time of the recovery were ideal – glass smooth waters, no swells, clear skies, and excellent visibility.
The position in which the raft was discovered is 45 miles North of the position where the distress signal was issued and is consistent with the drift and wind.
he deck crew lowers their inflatable boat into the water to recover the life raft. Photo: Barbara Veigahe deck crew lowers their inflatable boat into the water to recover the life raft. Photo: Barbara VeigaThe Sea Shepherd crew has been conducting the search on a very disciplined grid for over 24 hours. The crew is confident that if the yacht Berserk were still afloat it would not have drifted as far north as the liferaft, and would have been discovered. All indications are that the Berserk has sunk and that it sank very quickly. The conditions at the time were extremely high winds, extremely low temperatures, very heavy seas, and numerous and very dangerous growlers.
Captain Paul Watson regrets to say that the three missing sailors are most likely lost at sea and the recovery of their bodies is very unlikely. The shorelines have been swept in search of survivors.
“We will continue searching, but the boat and debris would not have drifted further North than this raft, and we have done a very extensive and meticulous search of the area between the positions where the distress signal was issued and the raft was found. In my opinion, the conditions at the time of the distress call presented some very serious threats to such a small vessel. Considering that the distress signal was automatically sent and the lifeboat appears to have been released after the vessel was submerged, my opinion, and I hope I am wrong, is that the Berserk sank rapidly at the point where the distress signal was first detected in a depth of about 500 meters and a distance some six miles off shore at the position of 77 Degrees and 25 Minutes South and 166 Degrees and03 minutes East. Considering the extreme conditions it is unlikely, but not impossible that any of the crew were able to leave the vessel before it was lost. Unfortunately we have seen no evidence of survivors.”
The Nancy Burnet helicopter spots the life raft. Photo: Barbara VeigaThe Nancy Burnet helicopter spots the life raft.
Photo: Barbara Veiga

quinta-feira, 24 de fevereiro de 2011



Photo: Barbara Veiga

           Andhøy er i god behald, tre framleis sakna

Funn av tom redningsflåte 'Steve Irwin' (Foto: Barbara Veiga)

Mannskapet på 'Steve Irwin' fann ein tom redningslfåte på havet i dag.
Foto: Barbara Veiga
Kaptein Jarle Andhøy på skuta «Berserk» ringde sjølv Hovudredningssentralen i Bodø.
Jarle Andhøy (Foto: Arne Raanaas/NRK)
Kaptein Jarle Andhøy og ein til frå mannskapet har vore på polpunktet med ATV-ar.
Foto: Arne Raanaas/NRK
– Klokka 0130 ringde Jarle Andhøy hit til Hovudredningssentralen i Bodø og sa at han og ein frå mannskapet er 100 miles frå Scott-basen. Han kunne fortelje at de er i god form, men at det er mykje vind i området, seier redningsleiar Finn Tore Sortland ved Hovudredningssentralen i Nord-Noreg.
Betyr det at tre framleis er sakna?
–Det stemmer at det er tre igjen på «Berserk» og det er dei vi no leitar etter. Andøy fortalde at det var nokre dagar sidan han hadde vore i kontakt med mannskapet på båten, seier Sortland. 
VIDEO: Sjå innslaget i Kveldsnytt.
I går søkte båtar og helikopter i tre timar etter den sakna norske seglbåten «Berserk» i Sørishavet, men det er enno ikkje funne spor etter fartøyet. Ein åttedel av området er gjennomsøkt.
Det er eit helikopter frå Sea Sheperd-fartøyet «Steve Irwin» som er i lufta for å leite etter den sakna norske båten. Det er fine leiteforhold i området med god sikt og ikkje så sterk vind.
«Vi har søkt gjennom rundt ein åttandedel av området»
Mal Holland

Søk nummer to

Navigasjonsoffiser om bord på «Steve Irwin», Mal Holland, seier til NRK ved 23-tida i kveld at helikopteret er i ferd med å fylle drivstoff for å gjere klar til eit søk nummer to. Då var klokka 11 på føremiddagen der nede.
Holland fortel at dei konsentrerer seg om å leite på sjøen og langs strendene, og at helikopteret ikkje har leitt etter dei to som kan vere på land.
- Både vi og den newzealandske redningstenesta har prøvd å kome i kontakt med «Berserk» via radio, men utan å lukkast, seier han.
Berserk (Foto: wildvikings)
Det er ikkje funne spor etter den sakna norske siglbåten 'Berserk'.
Foto: wildvikings
«- Ja, vi har håp om å finne mannskapet på "Berserk" i live.»
Mal Holland

NEWS: Life Raft Discovered by the Crew of the Steve Irwin


Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Life Raft Discovered by the Crew of the Steve Irwin

Crewmembers recover the life raft from the icy waters. Photo: Barbara VeigaCrewmembers recover the life raft from the icy waters. Photo: Barbara VeigaThe Sea Shepherd ship Steve Irwin discovered a life raft this morning at 0700 hours (NZT) at the position of 76 Degrees 59 Minutes South and 167 Degrees 26 Minutes East. Quartermaster Cassandra Smith of Sunshine Coast, Queensland, just barely spotted the black life raft because of its dark coloring on a very dark sea.
The life raft was empty of people and supplies, and was half full of water. “It looked like it has taken a terrible beating,” said Captain Paul Watson.
There was no identifying name or number on the life raft. Sea Shepherd reported the finding to New Zealand Search and Rescue. Apparently the life raft matches the description of the life rafts used on the New Zealand Naval vessel Wellington. The Wellington reported losing three life rafts overboard in the storm. The crew of the Steve Irwin recovered the life raft, which was a difficult task because the ship’s hydraulic crane and the decks were covered in thick ice.
Extreme weather conditions overnight have now abated and at 0800 hours, Sea Shepherd pilot American Chris Aultman, took off from the deck of the Steve Irwin to begin an aerial search of the area.
“We are hopeful that the crew may still be with the yacht or were able to make it to shore. We will do a complete search of the area in accordance to instructions provided by New Zealand Search and Rescue,” said Captain Watson.
It is now established that two of the five man Norwegian expeditionary team are alive, while the three presumably onboard theBerserk yacht remain missing. The two man exploration party was discovered about 100 miles inland bound for Ross Island. They said they were to meet the remaining crew of the Berserk at Shackleton’s Hut on Ross Island. The two Norwegians have indicated that they do not need assistance; they are now bound for McMurdo Station.
The Steve Irwin is in McMurdo Sound deploying their helicopter on a search grid for the missing yacht and three crew presumed to be onboard. Sea Shepherd helicopter pilot Chris Aultman is presently enroute to Shackleton’s Hut to see if any of the men from the boat crew are there. So far there has been no sign the yacht itself.

Crewmembers recover the life raft from the icy waters. Photo: Barbara VeigaCrewmembers recover the life raft from the icy waters. Photo: Barbara VeigaThe Nancy Burnet helicopter takes off for an aerial survey. Photo: Barbara VeigaThe Nancy Burnet helicopter takes off for an aerial survey. Photo: Barbara Veiga
A bird’s eye view of the Steve Irwin’s ice frozen deck. Photo: Barbara VeigaA bird’s eye view of the Steve Irwin’s ice frozen deck. Photo: Barbara Veiga

sábado, 19 de fevereiro de 2011

Victory in the Southern Ocean Day for the Whales


Thursday, February 17, 2011


Victory in the Southern Ocean Day for the Whales

Pilot Chris Aultman and crewmember Mark Cullivan in an emotional embrace. Photo: Barbara VeigaPilot Chris Aultman and crewmember Mark Cullivan in an emotional embrace.
Photo: Barbara Veiga
It’s official – the Japanese whaling fleet has called it quits in the Southern Ocean, at least for this season. And if they return next season, Sea Shepherd Conservation Society will be ready to resume their efforts to obstruct and disable illegal Japanese whaling operations.
“The Nisshin Maru made a significant course change immediately after the Japanese government made it official that the whaling fleet has been recalled,” said Captain Alex Cornelissen from the Bob Barker. “She looks like she’s going home!”
The Sea Shepherd ship Bob Barker has been tailing the Japanese Nisshin Maru factory ship since February 9th making it impossible for the whalers to continue their illegal whaling operations.
“I have a crew of 88 very happy people from 23 different nations including Japan and they are absolutely thrilled that the whalers are heading home and the Southern Ocean Whale Sanctuary is now indeed a real sanctuary,” said Captain Paul Watson.
The Sea Shepherd ships Steve IrwinBob Barker, and Gojira will remain in the Southern Ocean to escort the Japanese ships northward. “We will not leave the whale sanctuary until the last whaling ship has departed,” said Gojira captain Locky MacLean.
“This is a great victory for the whales,” said Captain Watson, “but we did not do this alone. Without the support of the people of Australia and New Zealand, we would not have been able to send voyages out for seven seasons from Australian and New Zealand ports. We are grateful to Senator Bob Brown and the Australian Greens Party. We are very grateful to Mr. Bob Barker for giving us the ship that turned the tide in our efforts to force the Japanese fleet from these waters. We are grateful to all our onshore staff and volunteers, supporting members and ship crews. We are grateful to the Chilean Navy and the government of France for their support. It is a very happy day for people everywhere who love whales and our oceans.”
It’s official – the killing of whales in the Southern Ocean Whale Sanctuary is over for this season and the whalers did not even take 10% of their quota. Sea Shepherd estimates that over 900 whales have been saved this year.
“It’s a great day for the whales,” said Sea Shepherd Chief Cook on the Steve Irwin Laura Dakin of Canberra, Australia, “and it’s a great day for humanity!”
Operation No Compromise

sexta-feira, 18 de fevereiro de 2011

Australian media: Coast trio helps stop whale hunt


Coast trio helps stop whale hunt

Steve Irwin sailing master Mal Holland, from Yaroomba, explains the new action plan to the crew at Antarctica.
THREE Sunshine Coast sailors have helped to shut down the annual Antarctic whale hunt.
Brothers Mal and Campbell Holland and Cassandra Smith are part of the crews on three Sea Shepherd ships that have chased the Japanese whalers in the Southern Ocean for the past month.
The whalers suspended operations because, they said, the anti-whaling group had made operations “unsafe”.
The sailing master of Sea Shepherd ship Steve Irwin, Mal Holland, who is from Yaroomba, said it was the conservationists’ biggest success in the seven years it had been defending the whales.
“They could be going home. It will be about three days before we can determine that, but in the meantime we will be sticking right with them,” Mal, 35, who has been on Sea Shepherd ships for four years, said of the whalers yesterday.
His younger brother, 32-year-old Campbell, of Woombye, is in his second year with the fleet.
Campbell is the chief engineer on Bob Barker.
“We are a seafaring family and have always had a connection with the natural world and the natural environment,” Mal said.
Marcoola’s Cassandra Smith, 38, is on her first Antarctic campaign.


quinta-feira, 17 de fevereiro de 2011

Sea Shepherd Announces the No Compromise Sale


Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Sea Shepherd Announces the No Compromise Sale

Get 10% off all e-store Purchases

Sea Shepherd Conservation Society continues to face the Japanese whaling fleet during this year’s Antarctic Whale Defense Campaign, Operation No Compromise. As of February 16th, the Japanese government has announced that they have halted their whaling activities in the Southern Ocean due to Sea Shepherd’s direct action efforts at sea.
For a limited time only, Sea Shepherd has extended their gratitude to all of their supporters by offering a 10% discount off all merchandise in their global e-stores (excluding the GSI surfboard). This sale will run from February 16 - 22. Your purchase will help Sea Shepherd to continue defending ocean wildlife worldwide.
Please use the following coupon code at checkout: WHALES4EVER. (We are currently improving our Sea Shepherd Australia store.  If you experience any difficulties using the code in this store, please know that your purchase will be discounted 10% before payment is processed).

(L to R) Captains Paul Watson and Locky MacLean and pilot Chris Aultman pose in Sea Shepherd logo apparel in front of the Gojira. Photo: Barbara Veiga(L to R) Captains Paul Watson and Locky MacLean and pilot Chris Aultman pose in Sea Shepherd logo apparel in front of the Gojira. Photo: Barbara Veiga
Operation No Compromise

Sea Shepherd News!!!

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

The Whalers Have Stopped Running East and are now Returning West

The Steve Irwin en route to the Ross Sea. Photo: Barbara ViegaThe Steve Irwin en route to the Ross Sea.
Photo: Barbara Viega
After heading eastward at full speed for 2,000 miles, and just before entering Drake’s Passage into the Southern Ocean, the illegal Japanese whaling factory ship the Nisshin Maru recently made a complete u-turn and is now heading due west back the way it has travelled over the last week. First Officer Peter Hammarstedt of Sweden, onboard the Bob Barkerfollowing the Nisshin Maru, reported that the whale poachers acted suddenly once they reached the position of 64 degrees 4 minutes south and 074 degrees 10 minutes west at 1700 (GMT). The whalers also decreased their speed and are heading westward at 11 knots, down from a speed of 14 knots they were traveling as they headed east.
The turnabout could mean one of two things. First, they may be on a great circle route back to Japan, or second, they may be returning to the whaling grounds in the Ross Sea where the three Japanese harpoon vessels may be waiting to continue their illegal slaughter.
Reports from Japan that the Japanese Fisheries Agency has suspended the hunt have not specified how long this suspension will last. It could be permanent, for the season, for two weeks, or only a few days. The three Sea Shepherd ships Steve IrwinBob Barker, and Gojira will remain in the Southern Ocean until the whaling vessels depart.
“The Japanese Fisheries Agency had no choice but to suspend whaling operations. Sea Shepherd had already enforced a suspension of operations by blocking all whaling operations since February 9th and blocking 75% of all whaling operations for the month of January,” said Captain Paul Watson “We will not allow the Japanese whalers to kill another whale down here in the Southern Ocean Whale Sanctuary.”
Captain Alex Cornelissen of the Bob Barker is in contact with the Chilean Navy to report the movements of the whaling ship to Chile. The Chilean government is closely monitoring the movements of the Nisshin Maru, and has made it clear to the Japanese whalers that whaling and the transportation of whale meat through Chilean waters is illegal. For now, the Steve Irwinand the Gojira will remain in the Ross Sea to await the movements of the whalers.
Operation No Compromise

quinta-feira, 10 de fevereiro de 2011


07/02/2011 - 10h56

Na Antártida, brasileiros tentam evitar abate de baleiasLUIZ GUSTAVO CRISTINO

A paisagem é linda, mas os voluntários que vão à Antártida tentar evitar a morte de baleias vivem em tensão permanente de guerra com os navios baleeiros.
Os métodos da ONG Sea Shepherd são variados. A fotógrafa carioca Bárbara Veiga, 27, exemplifica: "Conseguimos, por meio de cordas com metal dentro que se enrolam na hélice, interceder em um dos navios, que agora está parado. Eles provavelmente terão de colocar alguns mergulhadores na água para cortar a corda, e devem atrasar a caça por dias."
Michael Williams/Efe
Foto mostra navio japonês cuja pesca a baleias na Antártida foi interceptada por embarcação do grupo ativista Sea Shepherd
Foto mostra navio japonês cuja pesca a baleias na Antártida foi interceptada por embarcação do grupo ativista Sea Shepherd
Além dos cabos, os voluntários lançam projéteis com gás de pimenta no deque dos barcos baleeiros japoneses. Se necessário, eles também ficam no caminho entre os navios caçadores e as baleias, ou tentam danificar seus radares, para que os animais não sejam localizados.
Todas essas atitudes são, claro, revidadas. A brasileira Veiga, que está desde 5 de dezembro a bordo do Steve Irwin, barco da Sea Shepherd (com mais quatro membros do Brasil), diz se sentir sob risco constante.
Mas, para ela, "não há nada mais especial do que documentar este crime". Não é a primeira vez que Veiga participa de uma ONG: ela já foi do Greenpeace por quatro anos. Faz isso por causa dos seus ideais.
No Sea Shepherd, a sensação de insegurança descrita por Veiga é compartilhada por outro voluntário. "Uma vez, japoneses atiraram contra o nosso navio. Todos nós ficamos dentro, mas, quando o capitão Paul Watson saiu, ele levou um tiro no peito. Graças a Deus, ele estava com colete à prova de balas", diz o relações-públicas Daniel Fracasso, 31, que esteve na primeira campanha da Sea Sheperd, de dezembro de 2002, com outros 44 tripulantes.
Leia íntegra da reportagem na edição da Folha desta segunda-feira (7 de fevereiro)