It's safe to say that this season of "Whale Wars", the third for the hit television series on Animal Planet, will be one of the most action-packed yet.

The show, which follows Sea Shepherd's efforts to defend whales from Japanese hunting vessels in the Southern Ocean, has shed a controversial light on the whaling industry — and the loopholes exploited for commercial gain.

This past season's campaign Down Under saw some intense conflicts, including the sinking of a new Sea Shepherd vessel called the Ady Gil and the arrest of its captain, Pete Bethune. Bethune is currently being held in Tokyo, awaiting trial after trying to collect damages for the loss of his ship in a dramatic nightime boarding of the offending Japanese whaling vessel.

“Ships are expendable, endangered and protected whales are not,” said Captain Paul Watson. “We lost a ship, and we have one crewmember taken prisoner, and no injuries were caused nor sustained. I think we did bloody well this year, and 528 whales were saved. We won’t stop until whaling ends.”

The award-winning series premieres its third season this Friday on Animal Planet at 9 p.m.

Michael d'Estries ( @michaeldestries ) covers science, technology, art, and the beautiful, unusual corners of our incredible world.

Third season of 'Whale Wars' hits Friday
Animal Planet's hit reality television series continues the adventures of the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society.