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Save the whales!

The Story


After trying to stop nuclear testing, Greenpeace moves on to its next campaign: saving the whales. Off the coast of California, Greenpeace confronts a Russian whaling fleet by sailing out in a rubber dinghy and putting itself directly in the line of fire. In this CBC Television clip, the fifth estate plays the harrowing footage of the Russian warship's harpoon flying a few feet over the dinghy before striking the whale. "It was like a huge Damoclean sword [cutting] into the water," describes Robert Hunter. 

Medium: Television
Program: The Fifth Estate
Broadcast Date: March 16, 1976
Guest(s): Bob Hunter, Paul Watson
Reporter: Adrienne Clarkson
Duration: 5:36
Whaling footage courtesy of Greenpeace.

Did You know?


• In 1982, after years of campaigns led by Greenpeace, the International Whaling Commission (IWC) adopted a whaling moratorium, bringing an end to commercial whaling. Twenty years later Japan tried to lift the ban through the Commission. IWC members, thanks in part to the public pressure of Greenpeace, voted down Japan's resolution.

• Established in 1946, the mission of the IWC is to "provide for the proper conservation of whale stocks and the orderly development of the whaling industry." The ban on commercial whaling does not prevent aboriginal people from subsistence whaling.

• One of the tactics Greenpeace used when they confronted whalers on the seas was to play classical music under water in order to attract the whales' attention and lure them away from the whaling ships.


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