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Press Release: The Wonder of Whales

Issued: 14 October 2012

ECO-WARRIORS, sculptors, musicians and conservationists united at Cape Otway Lightstation on Saturday – all for The Wonder of Whales.

Tourists from across the globe, as well as Otways locals, perched on an 18 metre geoglyph of a Southern Right Whale made from Otways stone and mosaics, and children climbed all over a four metre long Southern Right Whale calf hewn from cypress at the Lightstation’s launch of its whale interpretation site on Saturday, October 13.

A trio of ukulele players entertained the crowd in between talks from artists, naturalists and crew members of the Sea Shepherd – who took time out from preparing for their ninth campaign to try and stop Japanese whaling boats from taking the giant mammals protected under the International Convention for the Regulation of Whaling.

Sea Shepherd’s Tommy Knowles, said he and other volunteers on board the Steve Irwin would risk their lives to prevent further kills of Southern Right and Minke whales in Antarctic waters.

“We will be using non-violent, direct action tactics to save these beautiful sentient beings,” he said.

“Last year they [the whalers] almost killed six of our crew members during one of our small boat actions, who were going after one of their harpoon vessels.

“They threw grappling hooks the size of bowling balls and two crew were hit,” Mr Knowles said.

“It’s something we feel is worth dying for – you haven’t lived until you’ve found something worth dying for,” he added.

“The Japanese [whaler’s] goal is to take upwards of 900 whales. This year we really hope we can have zero kills.

“They’re breaking international whaling laws in the Southern Ocean whale sanctuary – they’re taking endangered species out of Antarctic and Australian waters.”

Lightstation manager Paul Thompson, who spoke of his awe and wonder at a series of close encounters with a pod of killer whales in Antarctica, said the Lightstation had commissioned Johanna artist Peter Day and Apollo Bay sculptor Brad West to create the life-size whales as the tourist attraction’s commitment to promoting whales which migrate along Australia’s southern coast every year between May and October. Whales are often observed from the lighthouse balcony as they pass the Cape.

Mr Thompson said the Lightstation was committed to helping people learn more about the whales which inhabited the Southern Ocean and would be adding educational and interpretive information at the site, which overlooks the lighthouse and the point where the Southern Ocean and Bass Strait meet.

“The Lightstation is a fantastic spot to see whales and we want to play our part in raising awareness of these amazing creatures and the protection they need – we can all play a role in caring for the planet and the oceans we share,” Mr Thompson said.

“It was great to see so many people turn out for The Wonder of Whales – more than 470 people visited the Lightstation on Saturday.”

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