Prior to Friday’s premiere of the new Animal Planet series Whale Wars, Japan’s Institute of Cetacean Research has accused Animal Planet of ecoterrorism.
The show will chronicle the exploits of an anti-whaling group who takes their quest directly to the front lines, trying to stop Japanese whaling vessels from succeeding in killing whales.
Planetsave editor and contributor Alex Felsinger recently previewed the exciting series. In short, it chronicles how the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society stopped Japanese whalers from killing at least 300 whales last winter by using harsh, combative tactics.
The Society is not afraid to unleash their fury. The show depicts hostage situations, gunfire, the attempted destruction of whaling boats, and the throwing of powerful smoke bombs on board ships. It’s not surprising given that the leader of the group, Captain Paul Watson, co-founded Greenpeace. Supposedly Watson left Greenpeace because they weren’t aggressive enough for his tastes, although other sources claim he was kicked out.
So whether or not Animal Planet is being rightly accused of supporting eco-terrorists is unclear. In addition to accusing Animal Planet of supporting ecoterrorism, the Institute of Cetacean Research has also accused them of helping the crew of the Sea Shepherd to “stage” an attack on the crew’s boat with gunfire, an event they claim never really occurred.
Personally, I find Japan’s defiance and disregard of the international whaling ban to be the true crime. They claim that they do whaling for scientific purposes, even though whale meat is sold and consumed in Japan as a delicacy, even in schools. This occurs despite recent evidence that whale meat contains toxic mercury levels.
Japan doesn’t even want to play nice after other countries tried to do so at this year’s annual meeting of the International Whaling Commission. Their response after other countries tried not to take any offensive actions was to say: “We are witnessing the death of the International Whaling Commission.”
If you are reading Planetsave, then you are probably as fired up as we are to watch the premiere of Whale Wars. Feel free to leave your thoughts about the show in our comments section.
Photo Credit: Animal Planet
Levi Novey is a conservation professional who has received a bachelor's degree in History from Tufts University and a master's degree in Conservation Social Sciences from the University of Idaho. He worked for the U.S. National Park Service for 10 years, as a park ranger in 6 national parks, as a social science researcher in 5 parks, and as the science communicator for a Natural Resource Inventory and Monitoring Network that serves 9 parks. He has authored several scholarly papers as well as several guidebooks to U.S. national parks. Levi also has taught an undergraduate Environmental Communication Skills course at the University of Idaho, won several photography contests, and regularly enjoys visits to parks, protected areas, historical sites, museums-- and just about anywhere where he can learn something new about the world. He currently lives in Peru, with his wife Alicia, and their daughter Coral.