Whale Wars Review: Stop Harpooning On About It

May 15, 2009 by  
Filed under - Home, Reviews

WHALE WARS, Monday 18th May, Discovery Channel, 9pm Alert Me

I know; the idea of a programme following a bunch of whale conservationists immediately conjures up images of crusty tree-huggers and guitar strumming do gooders.

Perhaps it was in anticipation of this reaction that the makers of Whale Wars decided to accompany each scene with the same kind of heavy metal music that more usually accompanies compilations of the best smack-downs from Wrestlemania XI. 

Add this to some MVT style editing and you’ve got a rock and roll take on Free Willy set on the high seas.

I must admit to being quite surprised by the hardline tactics adopted by the crew of the anti-whaling vessel the Sea Shepherd. Captain Paul Watson presides over his boat like a fat little Napolean with a tache, quoting the Art of War while his crew freely admit that they would give their lives to help save the whales. Serious stuff, and not a chorus of Kumbaya in sight.

In this second episode of the series, the Sea Shepherd is hot on the trail of a Japanese harpoon ship which is stalking a whale breeding ground in the waters around the Antarctic. With a mad gleam in his eye Captain Watson, who as the episode progresses gives Ahab a run for his money in the crazy stakes, devises a plan for members of his crew to board the Japanese craft and be taken as hostages. His hopes are to create an international crisis as both vessels are in Australian waters and the authorities will be forced to intervene in a kidnap situation.

As the drama unfolds the views and opinions of the members of the crew aboard the Sea Shepherd are woven into the show along with a little bit of history about the Sea Shepherd movement. Interestingly Captain Watson was one of the founding members of Greenpeace but was asked to leave because of his increasingly militant take on conservation work. And true to form his latest scheme involves people literally putting their lives on the line to stop the killing of whales while he huffs and puffs up and down like the angriest man on the seven seas.

It’s ultimately down to your own take on conservationism whether you believe the Sea Shepherd is making necessary sacrifices or following an overly aggressive methodology. As for me, I’m down with the doctor as the only dissenter onboard.

Jack McKay

Mark says:

I’m really looking forward to this program. I have such admiration for the Sea Sheperd people but they have almost become the stuff of folk legend – they operate in the middle of the ocean so few people have ever seen them in action or what goes on.