‘It was sink or turn yourself in’: behind a dangerous 10,000-mile ocean pursuit


Documentary Chasing the Thunder tracks a high-stakes 2015 chase of an illegal fishing ship through storms and near collision, from Antarctica to Africa

The scale of the open-sea drama in Chasing the Thunder, a 2018 documentary now streaming on Discovery+ about the longest pursuit of an illegal fishing vessel in history, is fittingly and at times mind-numbingly colossal.

For 110 days in early 2015, the Bob Barker, a ship outfitted by the nonprofit Sea Shepherd to police some of the planet’s most remote waters, chased the Spanish-owned Thunder for over 10,000 nautical miles, from the Antarctic to the western coast of Africa. The two ships – one an infamously lucrative illegal fishing vessel, the other an eco-vigilante trawler largely staffed by young, idealistic volunteers – endured water temperatures that could kill by cardiac arrest, cyclonic storms with 50-ft swells, and pack ice that could congeal and trap a boat in minutes.

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