Whale Wars: Crikey! Here come the radicals!

Capt. Paul Watson took a hint from The Prince (as in Machiavelli) in this episode and decided to give the whalers something they must have wished for after the stink bombs started hitting their deck: two of his crew as hostages.

Watson wanted to use a hostage situation to force Australia, whose government conveniently ignored the whalers even though public sentiment was against allowing the kill. As shown last week, it was Steve Irwin’s wife Terri who christened the Sea Shepherd vessel filmed for this series. As she did, she said, “If Steve were alive, he’d be aboard with them.” Too bad the conservationist can’t be there except in spirit, as “crikey!” pretty well describes the reaction of the crew to Watson’s call for volunteers to become hostages.

For obvious reasons, no one rushed to raise a hand and more than a couple of his crew thought a few of Watson’s marbles had rolled overboard. Besides, they were afraid that if they volunteered and were caught, the Japanese would toss them over the side as well.

“It’s not a suicide mission, but there are always risks involved,” Watson told his volunteer crew, eventually getting two of the men to agree to do it. They were given a sheet of demands they were to present to the whaling crew, including “go back to Japan.” Meanwhile, other crew members planned to drop a heavy rope net close to the whaling vessel in the hope that it would tangle in their propeller and force them to halt. All the better to take pictures of the Japanese manhandling their hostages so they could release the photos to the world press.

There were some tense moments as the volunteers moved close to the whaler and, with a bit of difficulty, boarded the whaling ship. They were immediately grabbed and roughed up by an understandably angry Japanese crew. Meanwhile, the small boat that had dropped the pair off, moved in front of the ship and released the net which missed the propeller. The whaler tried to run, but a second rope net was successful, crippling the whaler.

“The camera is the most powerful weapon we have,” Watson explained as his crew and the film crew producing the series both got some distant shots of that encounter before the two Sea Shepherd volunteers were taken inside.

The episode ended with the story of the hostages making broadcast news around the world. In the battle of wits, this is a big score for Watson. How will it end? That’s the big story for next week. But it is becoming clear that the powerful weapon Watson spoke of will be this series itself. Blogs and web sites are praising a series that may shed more light on the destruction of the huge mammals than Greenpeace, Sea Shepherd and any other groups involved in the struggle combined have been able to do.