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The Sciences

Say What? Japanese Whaling Ships Accuse Animal Planet of Ecoterrorism

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Just as the Census of Marine Life announces the existence of amazing new wonders in the Southern Oceans, a battle over the oceans’ largest inhabitants rages on.While many have criticized Japanese whalers for illegally terrorizing (and slaughtering) whales, the Japanese are now turning the tables and accusing the television channel Animal Planet of terrorizing their whaling ships.

The accusations stem from Animal Planet’s new seven-part series, Whale Wars, which documents the militant anti-whaling escapades of the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society.The Sea Shepherds have been using harsh and combative— though, they insist non-violent—strategies like hurling stink bombs, throwing acid, and spreading propeller-tripping steel cables to stop Japanese whaling ships from doing their job.The group says they prevented 300 whale deaths last winter.Japanese whalers have killed thousands of whales since the 1980s, and claimed they were in the name of research.

The Sea Shepherds don’t seem to mind the label of ecoterrorists; rather, they’re self-declared modern-day pirates who sail under a skull and cross-bones flag.However, the Japanese Institute of Cetacean Research (ICR) says Animal Planet, best known for less-controversial programming like Pets 101 or The Crocodile Hunter, encouraged the Sea Shepherds’ violent activities and also staged a supposed shooting incident for the sake of sensational footage.The ICR is also worried that the Whale Wars series will glamorize ecoterrorism and encourage copy cat incidents.

Then again, that’s sort of like claiming that watching cop shows will make you go out and shoot someone [pdf].

Related Content: 80beats: Japanese Whaling Redux: American Scientists Say Slaughter Was Unnecessary 80beats: After 4,500 Whale Killing, Japanese Publish Their Research 80beats: Whaling Conference Dodges Thorny Issues; Uneasy Truce Continues

Image: flickr / guano

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