The Animal Planet show Whale Wars, which follows the controversial efforts of activists to deter Japanese whale hunters by any means necessary, has already gotten a lot of press, both for and against the team's tactics. Now members of the organization Sea Shepherd aboard the vessel Steve Irwin (RIP) are going to welcome star power on board in the second TV season of their fight: Darryl Hannah, who has graced this blog a time or two (or three) before, will appear on the show.

Technically, the whale hunters targeted by the Steve Irwin crew are within the law, which permits 1,000 whales to be killed each year in the name of research. But as the ship captain, former Greenpeace activist Paul Watson, claims those hunters are no researchers; they're capitalists.

Enter Ms. Hannah, already known for her aquatic quests Splash and the more recent made-for-TV movie Shark Swarm, not to mention her well-documented activism and eco-friendly lifestyle. She's going on board the Steve Irwin for a week, and she'll be on there for her 48th birthday.

“They are hunting endangered species in a marine protected area,” she said. “It is surprising and shocking to me that governments are not doing this work - that it is up to individuals and non-government organizations to uphold international law and protect endangered species."

Due to the brevity of her stay, it's unlikely she'll see much confrontational actions first-hand, but just by agreeing to visit she has already brought more attention to a noble cause (even if the methods used by the crusaders are controversial).

Progress has already been made in terms of whale lives saved: Last year the hunters returned with 551 minke whales, just over half of their planned catch. This year they intend to catch 985. We'll see how that goes.

“If Greenpeace would join forces with Sea Shepherd they would shut down the whaling industry right away," Hannah said. "If they were really serious and held their convictions they could accomplish this.” Well no one can question Hannah's convictions, certainly.

Story by Colleen Kane. This article originally appeared in "Plenty" in December 2008.

Copyright Environ Press 2008

Darryl Hannah fighting whale hunters
Actress Darryl Hannah celebrates her birthday at sea on Animal Planet's Whale Wars.