Did 'Whale Wars' End Whaling? Sure Sounds Like It

Did a TV show force Japan to suspended its whaling operations?

The Sea Shepherd, the ship featured in the Animal Planet series "Whale Wars," has become so successful at harassing whaling ships at sea that activist groups are saying the TV show is at last partially responsible for ending whaling as a modern industry.

"Sea Shepherd's repeated sabotage is. . .deplorable," Japan's Chief Cabinet Secretary, Yukio Edano, was quoted saying in Australia's Sydney Morning Herald. But, at the same time, he confirmed that the government has suspended whaling.

This week, the flagship Nisshin Maru -- an 8,000-ton research-and-whale-factory vessel -- was spotted heading west, after reversing course just as it reached the Drake Passage, the sea dividing South America from prime whale-hunting spot Antarctica.

And so, far, the whole thing has been captured on tape by the popular TV series.

Animal Planet producers, still at sea with the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society, report that the conservation group "doesn't fully believe [that] whaling operations are over," says Jason Carey, executive producer of "Whale Wars."

One of the anti-whaling society's other ships, the Bob Barker, is sitting on the tail of the Nisshin Maru. . .following it to see if it truly is going to go back home or if it's going to turn around and start whaling again."

"[Sea Shepherd captain] Paul Watson has always said to us, 'I'm probably the only reality star that's trying to put himself out of the business in TV," Carey says, adding that if Japan ceases whaling, "then that's exactly what he would do. I don't think we'd have a series next year."

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