Went whale watching this weekend, which I must say was very nice. It’s always nice to be out on the water (except during a hurricane, I guess) while gentle giants like Humpbacks swim and breach barely a hundred yards away. So it was fortuitous that I got back to work Monday morning and found an email from the anti-whaling group Sea Shepherd waiting in my inbox.
“Beck Straussner (42) of the United States was knocked off his jet ski by the Yushin Maru No. 2 in a confrontation between whalers and whale defenders in the waters off the coast of Antarctica,” stated the Feb. 11 email. “In an effort to slow down the tailing harpoon vessel, the Steve Irwin deployed three inflatable boats and a jet ski in an attempt to force the Yushin Maru No. 2 to fall behind to allow the Steve Irwin to escape. Beck was knocked off his jet ski into subzero Antarctic waters when he was struck in the chest by one of the water cannons on the harpoon vessel. The Yushin Maru No. 2 did not stop to offer assistance. Mr. Straussner was able to swim to his jet ski and was able to get underway again. He returned to the Steve Irwin some nine miles away. In response to the question of how he felt about the incident, Beck laughed and said one word–‘cold.’”
Say what you will about Sea Shepherd–their methods of stopping the despicable practice of whaling through the use of speedboats and propeller-fouling cables have been labeled “piracy” for not entirely unjust reasons–but they are masters at publicity.
At one end of the marketing spectrum, they do Whale Wars on Animal Planet, one of the most compelling television programs ever. Then, at the other end, you have this email, which I’m guessing was sent to me solely because Beck–the crewmember knocked in the water in the above incident–hails from Maui.
Photo of Humpback whales courtesy Sea Shepherd; photo of Steve Irwin by Michelle McCarron/Sea Shepherd