Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Tasmanian Devils

Just who are the Taz Patrol?
This shadowy group first appeared (or rather didn't) in 2009 when Sea Shepherd's Steve Irwin was being constantly shadowed by a Japanese whaling ship. Despite all efforts, SI could not shake its tail and only lost it when it crossed into Aussie waters to refuel. Wikipedia says, once it was ready to set sail again, the "crew was assisted by a group called the Taz Patrol, which tweeted the coordinates of Yushin Maru 3 to SI."
There's been much speculation about this group: supposedly it's a handful of fisheries researchers with spare time on their hands who wanted to help in the SS fight. Or is it a privately-financed vessel sailing all over the high seas? If so, they'd need a sizeable wallet to bankroll it. Ahhh, but there's a rumour that it's a SS splinter and financed by them. Or maybe it's just a non-existant Trojan Horse, fabricated to unease the Japanese whalers...
Whatever the case, these mysterious unseen helpers have garnered a bit of press space: [a], [b], [c], [d], [e]...a blog site was started in Dec.2010 but (at time of writing) only had one post. On that, it said "we're just six ordinary guys...very protective of our identity" who sail an old but "fast enough" boat called the Quokka. "We've all worked at sea for many years and a couple of us were in the navy..." So while no-one actually knows who the Taz Patrol is, it seems they're Aussies who have a vessel and are mounting their own campaign. On Twitter (Dec.2009/Jan.2010), they wrote:
# Reached EEZ limit. Starting search for whaling security vessel. 10:17 AM Dec 30th, 2009 from web
# Happy New Year to everyone except the whalers. To those scum: heads up, we're coming for ya. 8:18 AM Dec 31st, 2009 from web
# Conditions been difficult recently. One large wave hit side on. The old girl is handling amazingly well. We continue our search. 12:34 PM Jan 1st from web
# Radar Contact!!! As yet unknown vessel 4:17 PM Jan 1st from web
# Whaling vessel found! Nearly 300nm south Tasmania. NOT Shonan Maru 2 visual shows superstructure is one of Yushin Maru class (1, 2 or 3) 7:19 AM Jan 2nd from web
# Fuel situation required us to head back to port soon after confirming contact. Over half way back to port now running at most efficient speed 8:30 AM Jan 3rd from web
So is their vessel really an "old girl"? Is a 300-400nm outward-bound leg its half-endurance? Or is this all just smoke-and-mirrors? Will they be assisting the SS operation again this year? And will we ever know who they are and what they do?
There's certainly a lot of interest out there, for a group of activists that may not exist...


Anonymous said...

Why doesn't someone do a search on that boat Quokka, and see who owns it?
Then we'll see if it's real...

Bendigo Bill said...

Did these guys help SS in the 2010/2011 season?
Maybe they ARE real but were only able to help in 2009/2010?
If they operate out of Tasmania as their name suggests, they may not have been able to help last year (with the action being closer to NZ).
This year the whaling is more near Aust., so maybe we'll hear more from them.
Hope so!