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Whale Wars

Whale WarsThe members of the Sea Shepherd
  Conservation Society are the heroes
  and heroines of the whale world,
  doggedly determined — sometimes
to protect these
  beautiful and intelligent kings of the
  sea from a violent death, as seen in the
  television documentary series Whale
, and now available on DVD

FOUNDED BY CAPTAIN PAUL WATSON, who was also a co-founder of Greenpeace, The Sea Shepherd Conservation Society is pledged to protect the magnificent, graceful, highly-intelligent and mysterious whales at any cost; waging war against gigantic Japanese whaling ships as they police the oceans in the dedicated vessel the Steve Irwin; flying a stylised black-and-white flag with a skull and crossed trident and shepherd's crook.

These guys mean business because this is a crew with a mission: to wipe out whaling, poaching, shark-finning and habitat destruction by any means necessary. Paul and his crew are willing to lay their lives on the line for some of the most beautiful creatures to inhabit the oceans — creatures that are constantly under threat from humans as climate changes affect their feeding grounds, under threat from sonar interference from military and commercial vessels, and under threat from deadly whaling fleets that cruelly butcher innocent species.

Whale Wars documents the crew's three-month hunt across icy Antarctic waters in search of Japanese whaling fleets that slaughter whales while claiming that they are acting legally as they are carrying out important research. The Sea Shepherd Conservation Society says the Japanese whalers are acting outside the law and trapping whales illegally. Although commercial whaling was banned world-wide in 1986, the Japanese justify their senseless slaughtering of whales by alleging they are studying migration, population and dietary habits.

Introducing the mixed nationality crew of 'eco-pirates', who have a sense of obligation to do something about the killings, Whale Wars follows the team's on-going struggle to protect the giants of the sea to ensure their survival. Whales are some of the most endangered species on the planet and Paul is a legend in the environmental movement. "If the ocean dies," he says, "we die." And that's an indisputable fact.

Will the entire crew live to fight another day against the butchery of these beautiful creatures? It is difficult to watch as the whales lose their lives but encouraging and uplifting that there are those brave enough to face the dangers and care enough to do something about it. The passionate crew are comprised of volunteers who do not have an easy time. Living on board is pretty basic and if the crew don't have what it takes to be Sea Shepherds, the year's mission is in jeopardy. There is also a long-standing feud between Greenpeace and the Sea Shepherds, but in the fight to save the whales, it is the whales that are the most important.

This documentary is as adrenaline-fuelled as any blockbuster movie, played out on some of the roughest seas in the world with 40-foot swells and deadly storms. Antarctica is one of the most beautiful places on Earth, with icebergs of incredible shapes and colours and a host of interesting wildlife. It is also the site of the Southern Oceans Whale Sanctuary.

Against this background, Whale Wars captures the drama as the much-needed helicopter is accidentally damaged; some of the Steve Irwin's crew are ditched in the sea and in danger of freezing to death; brinkmanship with the Japanese crew; risking their lives and their freedom by boarding the Nisshin Maru — described by the Sea Shepherds as "the largest whale killing machine on the planet"; being held captive; and an alleged shooting that sparked a global media event. Dramatic, tragic, heart-warming and beautiful; Whale Wars sensitively handles a worthwhile project that should be of interest to us all.

Executive producers are: Dee Bagwell Haslam, Robert B Lundgren, Liz Bronstein and Dan Stone; Co-Executive Producer is Lori Golden-Stryer; Narrator is Jason Hildebrandt; Director of Production is Jerome Jarnigan; Director of Photography/Field Producer is Robert G Case; Executive in charge of production is Marjorie Kaplan; Music is by David Vanacore; and the Main Title Theme is by Smashing Pumpkins.

This fascinating and compelling series started a seven-week run on Animal Planet on 19 April, 2009. Due to air on primetime Channel 4 this summer, Whale Wars will be released on DVD on 8 June 2009, courtesy of Demand DVD. RRP: £29.99 | Certificate: Exempt | Running time: 420 mins.

"As adrenaline-fuelled as any blockbuster… Dramatic, tragic, heart-warming and beautiful; Whale Wars sensitively handles a worthwhile project that should be of interest to us all" — Maggie Woods, MotorBar

"Amazing Stuff" — The Guardian Guide

"Riveting" — Time Out