LOS ANGELES – Television game show host Bob Barker knew anti-whaling work could be dangerous even before his $5 million donation to a conservation group, but he was shocked to hear about Wednesday’s violent crash between a Japanese whaling ship and one of the group’s speedboats.
The collision off the coast of Antarctica sheared the bow off the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society speedboat and injured one crew member aboard. A new ship funded by Barker’s donation, the 1,200-ton Bob Barker, rescued all six crew members from the speedboat.
“To think I had just become involved in it, then they had the worst accident that they’ve had,” he said. “I thought, ‘Barker, what have you brought on to these people?”‘
The longtime animal activist said he was aware of Sea Shepherd’s tactics before contributing to the organization.
“I knew that they get in there and try to get between the whalers and the whales,” Barker said. “They are just doing wonderful things. Sea Shepherd operates under the UN World Charter for Nature to uphold international conservation laws and directly intervene against illegal activities on the high seas.”
The conservation group sends boats to Antarctic waters each southern summer to try to stop the Japanese whaling fleet from killing whales under what Japan calls a scientific whaling program. Conservationists and many countries say the program is a front for commercial whaling.
Among Sea Shepherd’s tactics: Dangling ropes into the water in an attempt to tangle up whaling boats’ propellers and lobbing stink bombs at whalers. The group uses a synthetic form of butyric acid in the bombs that emit a putrid odour and can potentially spoil whale meat, Barker said.
Because the butyric acid is a vegan product, the attacks are “nontoxic, biodegradable, organic chemical warfare,” he said.
The 86-year-old said he was grateful the crew injuries weren’t worse.
“This will probably get more notice for what they’re trying to do out there than anything in a long time, so it has a bright side,” Barker said. “I absolutely continue to support them, more so than ever, in good times and bad.”