Instead of interfering with Japanese whalers, two ships that are part of the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society are docked in Hollywood while preparing for another relief mission to the hurricane-battered Bahamas.
The nonprofit society has gained worldwide notoriety from the Animal Planet television series “Whale Wars.” Led by Captain Paul Watson, the series documents efforts to deter Japanese whaling expeditions in the Southern Ocean near Antarctica. Typically, the Japanese say they are conducting legitimate research — while the activists accuse them of taking part in illegal commercial whaling.
The M/V John Paul DeJoria, a multi-colored, 110-foot-long former U.S. Coast Guard Cutter and the tri-hulled Brigitte Bardot are anchored on the Intracoastal Waterway, across from the Margaritaville Hotel.
Under Wednesday morning’s sun, the DeJoria’s first mate, Jacqueline LeDuc, 30, who is also managing the Bahamas relief mission dubbed “Operation Good Pirate,” watched over her crew of 14. They were practicing using a water crane to lower an inflatable hulled Zodiac from the ship’s deck into the water.
“The Zodiac is our secret weapon,” LeDuc said, “it allowed us to get into areas that bigger ships couldn’t get into.”
The agile vessel proved useful shortly after the Category 5 Hurricane Dorian slammed into the Bahamas and the DeJoria arrived carrying so many relief supplies that “we couldn’t even open a door.”
The DeJoria and the Bardot are part of the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society’s four-ship fleet and the pair operate mostly east of the Panama Canal.
Before Hurricane Dorian devastated parts of the Bahamas on Sept. 1, the Bardot had been working to help save the Vaquita, a species of nearly extinct porpoise found in the Gulf of California.
The DeJoria had been keeping watch to deter fish poaching in the Atlantic Ocean as far as 3,000 miles offshore.
The two ships will remain in Hollywood for the next two weeks seeking donations of solar panels, generators, tools, building supplies and non-perishable foods before returning to the Bahamas.