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While environmental debates over dwindling whale populations are often fierce, they rarely take the form of boat-ramming. Until, that is, a Japanese whaling ship slammed into a $1.5 million high-tech conservationist speedboat called "Ady Gil" that was hounding them in Antarctica.

See for yourself:

Are the whalers entirely in the wrong? Surprisingly, some fellow activists say the Sea Shepherd group had it coming, but most are sympathetic with their attempts to thwart whale-killing.

  • Activists Not Perfect, but Doing Essential Work writes Andrew C. Revkin in the New York Times. In interviews with other whaling activists, Revkin finds some saying "such an incident was inevitable" because Sea Shepherd is as concerned about "maximizing publicity for itself as impeding the whaling." Nevertheless, Revkin balances this criticism against the fact that "governments opposed to whale kills in the global commons of the Southern Ocean aren't doing much to track or resist such activities."
  • 'War' Continues Because Japan Won't Stop Hunting  Jeff McMahon at True/Slant explains that despite bans, Japan continues whale hunting under the pretense of a research program. He concludes by citing violent tactics on both sides: "Each year Sea Shepherd harasses Japanese whaling ships, putting inflatable boats between their harpoons and the whales, firing stink bombs at them made of rancid butter. The whalers respond with sirens, water canon and sound canon, as well as the occasional collision."
  • Japanese Researchers Denounce Activists  The Japanese organization that administers the hunts condemned Sea Shepherd in a statement. "The Sea Shepherd extremism is becoming more violent... Their actions are nothing but felonious behaviour"
  • Most Importantly: What an Awesome Speedboat  Dave Bry at the Awl says what everyone watching the clip is thinking: "Saving the whales is a dangerous business. But clearly very exciting. And you get to drive boss-ass boats that look like the Batmobile."

This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.