Eerie music, stealthy ship to battle Antarctic whalers

Thu Dec 17, 2009 1:51am EST
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By Pauline Askin

HOBART, Australia (Reuters Life!) - An international conservation society is using a small, space-age-like vessel to scare off whaling fleets from Antarctic waters, with a ghostly tune as its main weapon.

The Ady Gil, a 24 meter (78 ft) carbon-fiber wave-piercing trimaran that runs on low-emission, renewable fuels, is the latest addition to the Sea Shepherd Conversation Society's protest fleet against Japan's yearly whale hunt near Antarctica, which is set to begin soon.

"It's a tough environment for a little boat like this and I am nervous, as Antarctica is one of the most hostile places on earth," Peter Bethune, skipper of the Ady Gil, told Reuters in Hobart, Tasmania, just before setting off for the Southern Ocean.

"But if you've got a green bone in your body then you can't sit back and watch what they are doing, so hopefully we will find where the Japanese are and we can get on to them."

Bethune said the materials, and the paint, on the ship made it more difficult for radars to detect, enabling it to sneak up on the whaling vessels speedily.

Japan says whaling is a cultural tradition, and while most Japanese do not eat whale meat regularly, many are bemused by accusations that the practice is cruel given that other cultures hunt many other wild animals without as much controversy.

Japan's whaling fleet is currently en route to the Southern Ocean to harpoon up to 935 minke whales and 50 fin whales, classified as endangered.

Waiting for them this year will be the Ady Gil, formerly known as Earthrace, which holds the world record for the fastest circumnavigation of the globe by a motorized boat.   Continued...