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You have seen it on the television, in the newspapers, and all over the internet, but now it's your chance to get up close and personal with the Steve Irwin ship with boat tours happening every Sunday in Williamstown between 10am - 4pm until it's back out to sea (check their webpage for updates). Currently as of the 21st of September the Steve Irwin, Bob Barker and Sam Simon ships are all at dock for repairs, rest and tours.
I took the tour today with my family and was pleasantly surprised with the depth of information given about life on the Steve Irwin ship and the places we were able to access with our small group guided by a french man who is one of the 43 crew members on board at sea.
Being a free tour I expected that we would be led on board and walked around the outer deck before disembarking but as you will see from the pictures, most areas were included in the 30 minute tour.
For anyone that doesn't know much about the Sea Shepherd conservation organisation, their mission is to end destruction of habitat and slaughter of wildlife in the worlds oceans to conserve and protect the ecosystem and species. The organisation is known worldwide for their efforts in trying to protect whales and other species by documenting and exposing illegal activity on the seas.
On board we were led to the rear deck which is the biggest undercover deck on all of the 3 ships for an introduction. From here we went up two flights of stairs to the outside deck looking into the captains bridge. To our surprise we were then taken inside the captains bridge where a couple of kids sat in the captains chair for photos and our guide told us about the communications set up, navigation radars and mapping. From this point we took the internal stairs down into the galley and mess area where we all sat on the couches and watched a short clip of the Steve Irwin in action and the Sea Shepherd campaigns. This pretty much rapped up the tour.
Some of the interesting facts about living on board the Steve Irwin is that they are at sea for up to 3 months at a time, there are 43 crew members on the Steve Irwin (The mother ship) and not a huge amount of room or sleeping quarters. The crew work two x four hour shifts a day with 3 crew members in the galley cooking up vegan only meals ( no animal products whatsoever) for all crew members. Despite the crew spending so much time on board it is not unusual for many to be sea sick for the first week out to sea before regaining their sea legs after time on shore.
Internal corridor, communication room, captains bridge and art work
I wont tell you everything about the tour but I am sure that anyone who has followed the Sea Shepherds movements and are inquisitive about the work they do, or anyone interested in conservation on the seas will find the tour of interest as will children keen to board a ship that's often seen on the telly.
Naturally the running costs of theses ships are astronomical and as a not for profit organisation they rely on donations from the public. They have been lucky enough to have some famous supporters such as Bob Barker who donated 5 million dollars which purchased a former Norwegian whaler ship that is now being prepared in Williamstown to head to the Antarctic where the Japanese will be doing whale research. If you like you can also help by donating money, buying some t-shirts from a stall beside the ship or online or by donating items on their 'wish list' such as frozen berries, tinned tomatoes, allen keys, spray paint and many other items that can be found here.