SB News Press: Santa Barbara resident heads to ocean off Antarctica to film series

Gavin Garrison remembers the sea being so rough that a ship crew member was able to stand on the wall of the mess. The Steve Irwin, a 174­foot­long Sea Shepherd Conservation Society vessel named after the late Animal Planet host known as the "Crocodile Hunter," tilted that much in the freezing, choppy waters off Antarctica.

"Sometimes we're in waves up to 60 feet high, and it really rocks our little ships," the 28­year­old Santa Barbara resident told the News­Press, sitting at a table on a sunny, warm day near the whale skeleton at the Santa Barbara Museum of Natural History.

It's anything but warm near Antarctica, where Mr. Garrison has faced perils such as being on a ship taking on water or other vessels attacking his ship. He's the producer of "Whale Wars," which has aired since 2008 on Animal Planet (Channel 33 on the South Coast and Channel 71 in North County).

The series covers Sea Shepherd's chases of Japanese whaling ships in the Southern Ocean, also known as the Antarctic Ocean, where the whalers have found ways to retaliate, such as ramming the anti­whaling vessels.

Since the News­Press interviewed Mr. Garrison on that sunny day, he has boarded the Steve Irwin. Last week, he emailed the News­Press from the ship while in port in Fremantle, Australia, where he was expecting to leave this weekend for the two ­week trip to reach the Southern Ocean to track some whalers. 

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