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Steve Irwin here for summer

31 Jan 2019

Steve Irwin here for summer Image

By Jessica Carrascalao Heard

Crowds gathered at Docklands over the summer break to visit Sea Shepherd’s recently-retired vessel, the “Steve Irwin”.

The ship was docked at Victoria Harbour Promenade while waiting for an opening at Sea Shepherd’s Southern Operations Base at Seaworks in Williamstown, where the pier was full.

While at Docklands, the crew opened the ship to the public, with tours being held on weekends in late December and January.

Steve Irwin ship manager Haans Siver said showing people through the ship helped educate the public on Sea Shepherd’s work.

“Letting them into our lives is letting them be educated on the positive sides of what Sea Shepherd does,” she said.

Tours also help to raise funds, with donations being taken and merchandise being sold on the ship.

Being berthed at Docklands has meant that interest in ship tours exceeded Ms Siver’s expectations.

“It’s prime location … it’s been great to get more and more people to come on to the ship and have a look and we can sell more merchandise,” she said.

Luke Vasiljevic, 45, visited the ship with his wife and young son.

He said he brought his son as he had an interest in boats, but the couple also wanted to show him what was happening in the world.

“I suppose basically the social issues around the whaling side of things ... it’s of interest to myself and my family,” he said.

Georgia Verschoyle, 35, was another visitor to the vessel.

In the past she has participated in Sea Shepherd’s beach clean-ups and thought it would be a good opportunity to see the ship.

“[It would] be nice to actually be on board – something that doesn’t come here very often,” she said.

The Steve Irwin was the flagship of the Sea Shepherd fleet for more than a decade until it was retired last December.

In that time, it had been instrumental in saving thousands of whales, as well as intervening in illegal fishing operations.

The ship, which is over 40 years old, is being retired due to its age, with the maintenance of its aging parts no longer being financially viable.

Ms Sivers said there were a couple of options for the future of the ship.

“I think they’re still weighing up the costs and effectiveness of either recycling the ship or making it into a museum,” she said.

Once there is an opening to dock at Williamstown, the Steve Irwin will move there and await its fate.

Its replacement as flagship in the Sea Shepherd fleet is the Ocean Warrior.

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