By all accounts, it appears that season four of Animal Planet's hit reality series, "Whale Wars," will have a rare happy ending.
The Japanese whaling industry on Friday announced that it was recalling its fleet from the Southern Ocean due to harassment by the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society. Such a decision marks the first time that activists have been successful in cutting the hunting season short.
“The Nisshin Maru made a significant course change immediately after the Japanese government made it official that the whaling fleet has been recalled,” said Captain Alex Cornelissen from the Bob Barker. “She looks like she’s going home!”
Japan’s Fisheries Minister, Michihiko Kano, clearly regretted the decision to end the season early, but left the door open on the fleet returning again next year. “It’s becoming difficult to secure the safety of the fleet,” he said. “From the point of view of securing the safety of the lives, properties and research vessels, we have no choice but to bring the research to an end. It’s regrettable that we received such obstruction. We need to do it in a way which we won’t be obstructed from now on.”
In terms of the whales, estimates from the Sea Shepherd indicate that Japan was able to fulfill perhaps 10-15 percent of its kill quota.
“We think they’ve only managed to kill between 30 and 100 whales, so out of a quota of 985, I think we’ve saved about 90 percent of the whales or even more, and that’s pretty good,” said Cornelissen.
The Sea Shepherd ships Steve Irwin, Bob Barker and Gojira will remain in the Southern Ocean to escort the Japanese ships northward. “We will not leave the whale sanctuary until the last whaling ship has departed,” said Gojira captain Locky MacLean.
As for "Whale Wars," series executive producer Jason Carey told the NY Post
that the recent events are likely to be "the finale of our season."
"[Sea Shepherd captain] Paul Watson has always said to us, 'I'm probably the only reality star that's trying to put himself out of the business in TV," Carey says, adding that if Japan ceases whaling, "then that's exactly what he would do. I don't think we'd have a series next year."
Fans can look forward to reliving this year's action on Animal Planet sometime in June. Here's hoping — for the sake of the whales — that this year's happy season finale will also be a series finale.