JAPANESE PIRATE WHALERS

The Royal Australian Navy leads the fight against pirate whalers in the Pacific

 

 

Humpback whales are among the most intelligent of creatures, hunted illegally by certain countries to near extinction, they inspired Jameson Hunter to pen his story about one whale and an adventurer that were bound together on a course with destiny.  The mid Pacific Ocean is the location for chapter 16 (order may be subject to editorial revision).

 

 

The giant humpback whale rams the Suzy Wong pirate whaling ship

 

 

 

Chapter 16  -  WHALING CHASE   240 N, 1410 E   Mid Pacific Ocean

 (extract from: The $Billion Dollar Whale by Jameson Hunter) © 2014

 

A distant rumble in the sea about a mile ahead and to their right alerted Kulo and Kana to the presence of another of those large man-made metallic floating objects in their path moving toward them and the Northern Marianas. Along with the low grumble was a whir of bearings and thrashing of blades from a triple cupped bronze propeller as it cleaved the water. More importantly there was a regular ping becoming stronger, from which whales instinctively know an object is moving towards them. Cetacean echo location is detailed enough to differentiate between krill and killer whales, this signal was mechanically crude by comparison. Kulo and Kana were enjoying themselves in the warmer water so didn’t pay particular attention. There were many such objects, most considerably larger, relentlessly thumping their way noisily and laboriously across the oceans. There was another giant metallic leviathan to their left, considerably longer and louder and several nautical miles away moving away from them. This vessel was not producing a pinging sound.

It was dusk, a calm soothing night; the full moon shining brighter than usual seemed to fill the sky. The lunar light sparkled as it danced on the waves. A light breeze wafting across the decks of the Suzy Wong, gave temporary relief from the invasive stench of whale oil. On nights like this the crew often forgot the purpose of their voyage, all except their ever watchful captain: Shiu Razor. Then, a blip of light on the fish-finder console caught Shui’s attention. He scratched his stubbly chin, and reached for a cold cup of green tea laced with sake from a gimballed holder. The blip became a confused splurge off to their left. Shui altered course south, south east until the signal was dead ahead, to intercept whatever was in the water. He had a hunch.

Reaching for the tannoy, he said: “All hands, time. Stow the cards away.”

The crew grumbled, and increased the speed of play, then finally, reluctantly, threw their hands in. Two were still in their bunks and the chef was busy making his specialty soup, in a large pan.

The blip divided into two clear signals as they closed in, one very much larger than the other. Shui pushed the throttle forward another notch in anticipation. He picked up the tannoy again speaking with increased vigour.

“Rig for a big whale, a huge mother and a little baby. Harpooners, load up. Grappling hooks ready.”

It was all action now above and below deck. The chef bolted a lid to the soup pan, and turned off the heat. The bunks were empty as every man donned his protective oilskins and rushed for the deck. Whaling is a fraught affair at the best of times involving heavy manual toil hauling blubber and meat after the kill, usually accompanied by stinging cold sea spray. Not this night, it was calm and clear with a blazing full moon. Two whales would set them up nicely; easy targets separated from the school; no doubt stragglers. The blips on the fish-finder were now steady 1,200 metres ahead as the ‘Suzy Wong’ closed in on the playful mammals that appeared oblivious to the presence of the pirates as their two blips on-screen criss-crossed. Rather than attack from the rear, Shui changed course for a better aim, swinging to starboard, then to port in a wide arc homing in on the smaller blip as a deliberate tactic.

Their lookout sighted the whales and shouted up to Shui. “Captain, two whales off the port bow one thousand metres.”

Shui returned: “Take the small one first, that’ll draw in the big one.”

Shui strained to locate their prey, and then spotted the targets now visible at regular intervals, letting out an involuntary shout of excitement.

Kulo noted the changes in course and realised she and Kana were the subject of attention as they rhythmically dived down in sinusoidal fashion. The noisy metallic object was now 1,000 metres away coming at them from the side. Kana was not paying attention, continuing playfully to tease Kulo with her zig-zag random patterns, ignoring signals from her large friend to take urgent evasive action. The pirate whaler closed on Kana at full speed until they were less than 600 metres away. Kulo had veered to one side hoping Kana would take her lead, when both whales surfaced for air some distance between them to see the Suzy Wong closing the gap to 350 metres. Kulo saw the humans on deck scurrying about as the vessel closed to 200 metres. Two men were on the bow aiming a tube at Kana, which suddenly spat out a barbed metal spear with a hiss, trailing a rope behind it. The harpoon caught Kana a fatal blow to the head striking deep, the explosive force sending her into unconsciousness instantly. She died almost immediately after from shock, her body convulsed involuntarily, emitting heart rending moans as her lungs emptied for the last time.

Kulo did all she could to warn her friend and now tried to help her. She swam up to Kana tasting her blood in the water. Kana fell silent and motionless, rising and falling with the waves. Kulo desperately tried to revive her friend refusing to believe it was all over, while the whalers grappled to secure the carcass. She shoved at Kana, swam underneath and lifted her head, screaming a deep sorrowful trumpet which rippled through the water. Shui knew the death of the soft target would bring the larger whale in close. His strategy was working perfectly.

At great risk to herself Kulo continued to try and revive Kana, even ramming her from behind trying to break her free, but more ropes were dug into Kana’s hide with every minute which emotionally tore into Kulo, enraging her as she felt for her lifeless friend. Now the whalers fired a harpoon at Kulo, who instinctively went to flee at first but was caught a glancing blow on her back behind her blowhole, slicing through her blubber setting salt to flesh causing massive stinging pain and a rush of adrenaline the like of which most animals never experience. She dived deep then surface broached performing a figure of eight on re-entry submerged, when her attacker overshot and slowed to turn for a second attempt.

In a momentary loss of reason and no longer caring for her own safety, Kulo rounded on the pirate vessel, propelling herself with all her might against the boats seam welded steel plated hull forward of the helm and aft of the harpoon mounting. She broached magnificently climbing high the sides and rolling the boat back using all her 60 tons causing the rusty plates to part at the fatigued seams, slightly releasing her build up of frustration. The harpoon gunners stared in shock as the chiselled blue-grey and white giant glared at them signaling her displeasure – a monster from the deep, her scalloped ventral features sending a shiver down the spines of the hardiest fisherman onboard.

 Kulo snorted hard from her blowhole showering the deck with hot spray like a fire breathing dragon – or so it seemed, then took a voluminous breath and cast off arcing backwards and away into the sea diving deep amid a turquoise and white foam wash. Not yet done Kulo rounded on the Suzy Wong from 300 metres out, the damaged boat now virtually stationary in the water, a sitting duck. The humpback whale stayed submerged on the return run, invisible to the men on deck aiming for the same spot on the hull knowing she’d weakened it. The crew recovered from the shock attack were now straining to see where the whale had gone, some daring to venture close to the buckled railings. Kulo accelerated underwater to her maximum velocity in a Herculean power surge coming out of the water at thirty degrees, slamming directly onto the parted seam in a three-quarters body turn.

The pirate ship again rolled back from the collision followed by a loud rupture of splintered metal, as the fracture increased lower down the water line to reveal a seventeen hundred millimetre gash. As the vessel again rolled upright recovering equilibrium the fracture submerged. Seawater poured into the bilges at an alarming rate. The crew reeled back from the collapsed railings. Shui shouted to the crew from the helm for all hands to check the damage and report, and for the gunners to get off another harpoon at the whale. Kulo bounced back into the water momentarily winded from the clash. As Shui waited impatiently, he fired a flare to help his gunners track their game. Fortunately for Kulo this had the opposite effect. The gun aimer suddenly saw the ocean light up masking her wake. She breathed deep for a few seconds to recover from the exertion. Then a harpoon whisked past her into the black waters ahead too close for comfort.

Swimming at a fair pace Kulo headed south. Shui pushed forward on the throttles and spun the Suzy Wong to give chase. Kulo felt the engines come to life and swam faster. She need not have worried; the Suzy Wong was going down by the head. The crew knew the vessel was doomed, but Shui insisted they try to shore up the damage and pump the bilges. By now the water in the engine room was rising over the bulkhead door step. Shui watched as Kulo distanced herself, every now and again spouting from her blowhole six metres into the air, from full-breath exhalations. She was now some 500 metres distant. Though angry at himself for being caught off guard Shui was in awe of the spirit of the angry whale that had not only hurled itself at his ship, but come back for a second charge to tear the hull open. Nobody would believe it possible.

The bows of the Suzy Wong slid into the sea followed by the weapon that had so easily taken Kana’s life. Reluctantly, Shui commanded that the lifeboats in two white canisters be launched. He then radioed his position to their base in Nagasaki to give them urgent advice and then he switched to the international distress frequency, hoping for rapid rescue.

“Mayday. Mayday, this is the motor fishing vessel Suzy Wong. We’ve been attacked by a giant humpback whale close to the Northern Marianas. We’re sinking fast. We’ve launched two inflatable life rafts. It’s a bright moonlit night so you won’t spot our beacons. We’ll fire flares to assist. Please send assistance urgently. Mayday. Mayday.”

The crew hurried about grabbing all they could for what might be a long wait until rescue. Some men clambered into the lowered yellow inflatable, while others passed emergency supplies, flares and portable navigation equipment. Shui looked at the horizon just in time to see Kulo give another deep blast from 1,000 metres out. The waves lapped at the helm as the boat’s attitude changed to a steeper forty-five degree angle. Shui rushed to the second inflatable now level with the railings midpoint on the hull. He clambered aboard deftly, a skilled mariner and they cast off rowing quickly so as not to get caught in the vortex as the boat hurtled to the ocean floor.

The Suzy Wong’s helm submerged and the hull came upright almost vertically. She bobbed about for ten long seconds then slipped beneath the waves gracefully amid a plume of escaping air, with rather less fuss than all the years of service commanded - or so thought the crew. Gone, Shui thought, never to be steered out of harbour again, taking with her the carcass of the small whale whose death had so enraged the giant humpback. Shui contemplated the loss for a while and looked south straining to catch sight of Kulo again but she was also nowhere to be seen. Suddenly he felt quite alone, a speck on the vast ocean; helpless. The crew looked to him for inspiration and orders, but it was he who needed the motivation. Silently he vowed to himself to avenge the loss of his trusty vessel on this almost surreal, bright lunar night. The syndicate would not be pleased about the sinking. He doubted that they would believe his account? It would be a fisherman's tale; an exaggeration. Except that all of the crew would tell the same tale. Shui was suddenly cold and shivered. He was also broke with no catch share-out to look forward to.

Fifteen hundred metres south Kulo slowed and turned back to glance at the spot where she’d lost her best friend. The pirate ship that had taken Kana from her was nowhere to be seen. She’d heard the bubbling and commotion aboard and saw the flare go out. She knew she’d caused the Suzy Wong to founder, but that was scant compensation for the loss of her friend and now she felt guilty for causing the loss. At least the ship could not give chase or harm any more of her clan. Kulo turned south again heading to who knows what, but it had to be better than this nights events; a fresh start. Her back was throbbing terribly. In spite of her temper she’d not killed any of the humans in the encounter and for that she was thankful. That was an unwritten rule that cetaceans unconsciously obeyed, save for Orcas, their killer whale cousins. Unbeknown to Kulo another pirate whaling ship was in the vicinity, the Jonah, captained by Stang Lee.

 

 

-  *  -

 

 

A humpback whale stikes a blow for anti whaling - The $Billion Dollar Whale movie

 

 


 

 

 

ACIDIFICATION - ADRIATIC - ARCTIC - ATLANTIC - BALTIC - BAY BENGAL - BERING - CARIBBEAN - CORAL - EAST CHINA

ENGLISH CH - GOC - GULF GUINEA - GULF MEXICO - INDIAN - IOC - IRC - MEDITERRANEAN - NORTH SEA - PACIFIC - PERSIAN GULF - SEA JAPAN

STH CHINA - PLASTIC - PLANKTON - PLASTIC OCEANS - SEA LEVEL RISE - UNCLOS - UNEP WOC - WWF

AMAZON - BURIGANGA - CITARUM - CONGO - CUYAHOGA - GANGES - IRTYSH - JORDAN  - LENA - MANTANZA-RIACHUELO

MARILAO - MEKONG - MISSISSIPPI - NIGER - NILE - PARANA - PASIG - SARNO - THAMES - YANGTZE - YAMUNA - YELLOW

 

 

Japanese international whaling pirates

 

 

LINKS & REFERENCE

 

http://www.dimdex.com/en/warship-display.aspx

http://www.npp.com.qa/

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Qatar_Armed_Forces

http://www.asdwire.com/press-release-8988/

http://www.maritimeaustralia.com.au/

http://www.pacific2013.com.au/innovation-awards/index.html

Kestrel Marine's Sentient object recognition system

Maritime Australia Limited

Pacific 2013 Awards

tattoos fansshare.com sectasaur_antarctic_melt_john_storm_adventure_book_by_jameson_hunter

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This website is Copyright © 2015 Bluebird Marine Systems Limited.   The names Bluebird, Bluefish, SeaNet™, SeaVax™ and the blue bird and fish n flight logo are trademarks. All other trademarks are hereby acknowledged.

 

Bluebird trademark legend, blue bird in flight logo