2002-2003 Antarctic Whale Defence - 1st expedition

2002-2003 Antarctic CampaignIn December 2002, Sea Shepherd set out to hunt down the Japanese whaling fleet in Antarctic waters. Our objective was to enforce the global moratorium against commercial whaling and to enforce the protection regulations granted to the whales inside the official Southern Ocean Whale Sanctuary.
learn more

history01 history02

December: The Farley Mowat departs from Auckland, stops in Hobart and proceeds on to Antarctica to search for the Japanese whaling fleet.

The whale poachers were able to change plans and avoid Sea Shepherd, and we learned a valuable lesson. Without aerial surveillance, the chances of success in tracking the Japanese fleet is small.

2005–2006 Antarctic Whale Defence - 2nd expedition

2005-2006 Antarctic Whale Defence CampaignIn December of 2005, Sea Shepherd launched our second expedition to the vast and frigid waters of the Antarctic to oppose illegal Japanese whaling. Our flagship Farley Mowat departed from Melbourne, Victoria, Australia, and stopped in Hobart, Tasmania, to pick up a helicopter to be used for aerial reconnaissance. The whaling fleet was located on December 22nd and fled from Sea Shepherd's chase.  learn more

On December 25th, the Farley Mowat intercepted the course line of the Japanese factory ship Nisshin Maru and attempted to foul her propellers. The Nisshin Maru began to run and once again the Farley Mowat pursued.

history05 history06

The expedition continued into January of 2006 with the Farley Mowat chased the Nisshin Maru for three thousand miles along the Antarctic coast. On January 8th, the Farley Mowat once again history04approached the Nisshin Maru and deployed prop foulers. The Nisshin Maru stopped whaling activities and fled. On January 9th, the Farley Mowat intercepted and side-swiped the whaling fleet supply vessel Oriental Bluebird. The supply ship was ordered out of the Antarctic Whale Sanctuary and complied. The Oriental Bluebird did not return.

The Farley Mowat completed a 50-day voyage covering 8,500 miles between Melbourne and their final destination of Cape Town, South Africa. The Japanese whaling fleet was disrupted for 15 days and prevented from achieving their quota.

Farley Mowat intercepts
the Oriental Bluebird.

Ramming the side of
the Oriental Bluebird.

2006–2007 Operation Leviathan – 3rd expedition

Operation LeviathanOur 2006-2007 Antarctic whale defence campaign was named Operation Leviathan and was the third Sea Shepherd expedition to the Southern Ocean to intervene against the illegal whaling operations of the Japanese fleet in the Southern Ocean Whale Sanctuary. The ambitious campaign involved the utilisation of two ships, (the Farley Mowat and the newly-purchased Robert Hunter), a Hughes 300 helicopter (the Kookabura), and 56 crewmembers from 14 different nations.  learn more

In October of 2006, Sea Shepherd purchased the Scottish Fisheries Patrol vessel Westra in Rosyth, Scotland. The vessel was renamed Robert Hunter in honour of the man who was co-founder of Greenpeace, Shepherd Advisory Board member and dear friend of Captain Paul Watson.

The Farley Mowat prepares for the campaign in Cape TownThe Farley Mowat prepares for the campaign in Cape Town  The Robert Hunter departing RosythThe Robert Hunter departing Rosyth

Bob Hunter on Sea Shepherd’s
1998 Makah Campaign

December: In December of that year, the Robert Hunter departed from Scotland and journeyed from the North Atlantic to South Atlantic.  The Farley Mowat departed from Melbourne, Australia, to Hobart, Tasmania.

history14 history15

The Japanese whaling fleet had planned to illegally kill 935 Piked (Minke) Whales and 50 Fin Whales.  During Operation Leviathan, we were at sea for five weeks and chased the whaling fleet for thousands of miles, constantly interrupting their whaling activities. We intercepted and engaged the fleet on February 9th and 12th, 2007, and their whaling operations were disrupted, saving several pods of whales.

history16 history17
history18 history19

2007–2008 Operation Migaloo – 4th expedition

Operation MigalooFrom January to March of 2008, the Sea Shepherd ship Steve Irwin voyaged twice to the coast of Antarctica to disrupt illegal Japanese whaling activities in the Southern Ocean Whale Sanctuary. Two Sea Shepherd crew boarded a Japanese harpoon ship and were detained for three days before eventually being released. The Japanese Coast Guard threw concussion grenades and fired upon Sea Shepherd crew. The campaign concluded with over 500 whales saved and losses of profits for the Japanese whaling fleet.
learn more

This was the first year that we were joined on a campaign by a film crew from Animal Planet, who chronicled our campaign for the television series Whale Wars

The Japanese crew ties up Sea Shepherd volunteersThe Japanese crew ties up Sea Shepherd volunteers Two Sea Shepherd crewmembers board the Japanese vessel to hand deliver a message to the captainTwo Sea Shepherd crewmembers board the Japanese vessel to hand deliver a message to the captain
history23 history24
history25 history26
Japanese Coast Guard throwing concussion grenades

2008–2009 Operation Musashi – 5th expedition

Operation MusashiThe 2008-2009 Antarctic Whale Defence Campaign, Operation Musashi, so named in reference to the legendary samurai Ronin and master strategist Miyomoto Musashi.  
learn more

The campaign launched when the Sea Shepherd ship Steve Irwin departed the Port of Brisbane, Australia, with an international volunteer crew of 48, headed for the Southern Ocean Whale Sanctuary.  The international crew hailed from Australia, New Zealand, Japan, Canada, Great Britain, the USA, Sweden, the Netherlands, Germany, South Africa, Hungary, and Bermuda.

history28 history27

The mission was simple – to intervene, once again, against the illegal operations of the Japanese whaling fleet. This season, Sea Shepherd's ship chased the poachers more than 3,200 miles through the icy waters of the Southern Ocean before withdrawing in February. We saved the lives of 305 whales.

Again, we were joined by the Animal Planet crew, filming for the TV series Whale Wars.

2009–2010 Operation Waltzing Matilda – 6th expedition

Operation Waltzing MatildaIn December of 2009, The Steve Irwin and The Ady Gil departed for Antarctica in search of the Japanese whaling fleet while our newly-acquired top-secret ship The Bob Barker departed from Mauritius to locate and surprise the whaling fleet.  learn more

history29 history30

From January to March of 2010, The Steve Irwin, The Bob Barker, and The Ady Gil sailed to the Southern Ocean Whale Sanctuary to intervene against illegal activities of the Japanese whaling fleet. The Shonan Maru No. 2 deliberately rammed and consequently sunk the Ady Gil. Captain Peter Bethune boarded the Shonan Maru No. 2 to deliver an invoice for the loss of his sunken boat which resulted in his transport to a Japanese prison. For three weeks straight, not a single whale was killed while the Sea Shepherd ships tailed the whaling fleet. Operation Waltzing Matilda was a success, saving the lives of 528 whales and costing the Japanese government tens of millions of dollar in losses.

For the third year, we were joined by the Animal Planet crew, filming for the TV series Whale Wars.

2010–2011 Operation No Compromise – 7th expedition

Operation No CompromiseOperation No Compromise further demonstrated the escalation of Sea Shepherd’s success against illegal whaling in the Southern Ocean Whale Sanctuary. We sailed three vessels – The Steve Irwin, The Bob Barker, and The Gojira (later renamed The Brigitte Bardot) – and our interventions forced the Japanese whaling fleet to suspend their operations and leave the Southern Ocean early, thereby saving 863 whales.  learn more

For the fourth year, we were joined by the Animal Planet crew, filming for the TV series Whale Wars.

history31 history32

2011–2012 Operation Divine Wind – 8th expedition

Operation Divine WindDuring 2011-2012’s Operation Divine Wind, Sea Shepherd’s eighth Antarctic Whale Defence campaign, we once again sailed our fleet to the icy waters of the Southern Ocean, but were forced to operate with just two ships when a rogue wave damaged a pontoon on the Brigitte Bardot early in the campaign, forcing a rescue of our crew and sending the vessel into port for repairs.  learn more

Even with just two ships and some of the worst weather our crew had seen in eight seasons in the Antarctic, we once again sent the Japanese whaling fleet home early and saved 768 whales.

This marked the fifth year of Animal Planet filming the campaign for the popular docu-reality television series, Whale Wars.

history33 history34

2012–2013 Operation Zero Tolerance – 9th expedition

Operation Zero Tolerance

Sea Shepherd's ninth campaign to Antarctica was named Operation Zero Tolerance because the illegal killing of threatened, endangered and protected whales cannot, and will not, be tolerated by Sea Shepherd. Operation Zero Tolerance was our most successful to date, saving the lives of more than 932 whales. It was also Sea Shepherd's largest campaign with more than 120 crew from 20 nations on board four vessels.  learn more

The Japanese poachers escalated their attacks on our non-violent ocean defenders this campaign. Three of the Sea Shepherd ships were damaged after being rammed multiple times by the 8,000 tonne Nisshin Maru.  The Sea Shepherd crew also endured attacks by concussion grenades and were hit with high-powered water cannons.

Despite all the hardships of confronting the whalers and spending more than 4 months at sea, the Sea Shepherd team returned home knowing that without them hundreds of whales would have been illegally slaughtered. The crew also returned home knowing that their work has been hailed as heroic from supporters across the globe.


Visit the

Visit the Store

Photo Gallery

Photo galleryPhoto galleryPhoto galleryPhoto gallery
Sea ShepherdSea Shepherd is the world's leading direct-action ocean conservation organisation.