Alright, I've nearly finished banging on about Australians renting spy planes to Japanese whalers. There's a little side story though, about a bunch of renegade Tassie folk, that I want to tell.
While some Australian companies are happy to help out illegal whalers for 'truckloads of cash', other individuals and companies are doing amazing things to keep poking the federal government and whaling enterprises where it hurts.
Being dogged by spy planes and Japanese 'security vessels', meant that the Sea Shepherd fleet were on the back foot when it came to finding the actual whaling fleet, because their co-ordinates were being relayed constantly to the fleet.
Enter Taz Patrol.
Captain Paul Watson described them as '6 people on a small motor vessel, touring the South Pacific.' Taz Patrol found the Yushin Maru, and twittered the co-ordinates to the Sea Shepherd crew. Then they left the scene. Job done.
Even the Sea Shepherd crew seemed bamboozled as to the the identity of the Taz Patrol crew. Their twitter page lists them as coming from south of Hobart.
Here is a list of their posts: Italics are mine.
5.23 pm Dec. 29th, 2009. We are at sea heading for the edge of the EEZ. Hoping to tag on to the Shonan Maru 2 and relay her co-ordinates.
10.17 am, Dec 30th, 2009. Reached EEZ limit. Starting search for whaling security vessel.
6.13 pm, Dec 30th, 2009. Search continuing. So far no ships spotted. Should any boat wish to help we can provide details of areas already searched.
4.16 am, Dec 31st, 2009. Our last update of 2009. Our New Year resolution is simple: we will not back down. We did not come all this way to run away.
8.18 am, Dec 31st, 2009. Happy New Year to everyone except the whalers. To those scum: heads up, we're coming for ya.
1.15 pm, Dec 31st, 2009. Steve Irwin has left port. It is now urgent we locate SM2. Increased speed to cover more area. This reduces our range but time is limited.
12.34 pm, Jan 1st. conditions been difficult recently. One large wave hit side on. The old girl is handling amazingly well. We continue our search.
4.17 pm, Jan 1st. Radar contact!!! As yet unknown vessel.
6.09 pm, Jan 1st. Steve Irwin claims to be out of danger area. We wish the crew of the Steve Irwin good luck in finding the whaling fleet scum.
6.13 pm, Jan 1st. Still intend to investigate radar contact. Conditions + heading + speed of target mean a few hours before visual contact possible.
7.19 am Jan 2nd. Whaling vessel found! Nearly 300nm south Tasmania. NOT Shonan Maru 2 visual shows superstructure is one of Yushin Maru class (1, 2 or 3).
7.23 am Jan 2nd. YM 1,2, or 3 was found over twelve hours ago at 47'48" S, 146' 33" E. SM2 location unknown. It's Possible SM2 scared and called reinforcements.
7.30 am, Jan 2nd. How many vessels are searching for the SI? (Steve Irwin) Seen one harpoon vessel of Yushin Maru class. How many others up here trying to track SI?
7.32 am, Jan 2nd. Whilst Yushin Maru class harpoon is up here it isn't whaling. Well done SI for diverting ships! Is SM2 scared to face us without backup? (SSCS later said the SM2 was probably refuelling at that time.)
8.30 am, Jan 3rd. Fuel situation required us to head back to port soon after confirming contact. Over halfway back to port now running at most efficient speed.
12.24 pm. Jan 6th. Back in port. Whalers up the ante (regarding Ady Gil's ramming and sinking by Shonan Maru 2). We are thinking of ways to bring the Capt'n of SM2 to justice.
Somehow, I wouldn't put it past them! I want the T-shirt.