Whale Wars

TV review by
Emily Ashby, Common Sense Media
Whale Wars TV Poster Image
Popular with kids
The intense reality of extreme conservation work.

Parents say

age 12+
Based on 3 reviews

Kids say

age 10+
Based on 11 reviews

Did this review miss something on diversity?

Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive, diverse representations in books, TV shows, and movies. Want to help us help them? Suggest a diversity update

A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this TV show.

Positive Messages

The people featured on the show risk their lives for their cause, but not everyone will agree with their opinions or their tactics (which include stink bombs and using other, non-life-threatening ammunition against the crews of ships who claim to be killing whales legally for research). Often the activists' mere presence is an act of breaking the law, and they feel right in destroying personal property, avoiding arrest, and inflicting bodily harm on their opponents if it means saving whales.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Lots of interpersonal tension among the Sea Shepherds. Captain Paul Watson often speaks harshly of other conservationists whom he claims take a more hands-off approach to real-world work. All of the Shepherds bad-mouth the whale hunters, but some episodes give the whalers a chance to state their case as well. There's no love lost between members of the two sides, but in some cases they try to sway opinions with passionate speeches supporting their work.


Whales are harpooned and dragged aboard ship (some blood). Some scenes show them being dismembered and their meat cut up for sale. Confrontations between the Sea Shepherds and the whalers often turn violent, and the crews hurl stink bombs and tear gas grenades at each other. Shootings, hostage situations, threats of terrorism, and the harsh elements at sea put the players in constant danger.


Common use of "hell," but anything stronger ("s--t," "ass," "f--k," and the like) is bleeped.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Crew members occasionally smoke cigarettes.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that WHALE WARS is an intense reality series that's iffy for tweens and sensitive viewers due to graphic scenes of the killing and dismemberment of whales and the violent lengths to which the conservationists and the whale hunters go -- including exchanges of gunfire, hostage situations, and other bodily threats -- to deter each other's actions. Viewers who come to the show with a predetermined opinion on the balance between conservation and hunting rights will naturally side with one of the opposing groups, but if you're riding the fence, this gritty show will raise a lot of points to consider in forming your stance. While activists' devotion to their cause is admirable, their radical tactics won't set well with some viewers, and may send the wrong message about conflict resolution to impressionable youngsters. Expect some heated language ("hell" is common, but "f--k," "s--t," and others are bleeped) as well.

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Adult Written byParranormalHour May 18, 2012

GORE GORE AND MORE GORE... Not that i'm against that!

The people on this show are idiots! They were messing with the heavily armed Japanese and know they are messing with a country that can arrest them for basicall... Continue reading
Adult Written byDingo149 August 11, 2009

Perfect for teens and over.

This is the greatest series I've ever seen. Why? Because it shows real passion to protect and defend whales, that no other group is willing to do. After 20... Continue reading
Kid, 12 years old July 20, 2012

most amazing show on earth

it is amazing i have bin watching sence i was three and have meet paul watson and he is amazing wish our government would do something about it instead of looki... Continue reading
Kid, 11 years old July 14, 2011

Please Commonsense

Oh please Commonsense!! Commonsense Is like overprotective parents- very annoying. It's on Animal Planet how bad can it be!? I absolutely LOVE Animal Plane... Continue reading

What's the story?

Legendary conservationist Paul Watson and a crew of volunteers take to the sea in an effort to protect whales from poachers and hunters in Whale Wars. Aboard their flagship, the Steve Irwin, Watson and his fellow "eco-warriors" patrol hotspots for whale hunting, including the coast of Antarctica and the shores of the Scandinavian Faroe Islands, where an ancient tradition centers on the baiting and slaughter of hundreds of pilot whales in a joint community effort. Led by Watson, the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society members are often joined by additional ships and crews who help stage strategic missions to thwart the whalers' plans and save both endangered and non-endangered species of whales hunted for their meat as well as for research purposes.

Is it any good?

Whale Wars is a disturbing, thought-provoking reality series that isn't for the faint of heart. Even if you side with the freedoms invoked by the hunters over the fervency of the conservationists, it's still disconcerting to see the bloodied, splayed whale bodies and the footage of the killing process itself. This show doesn't shy away from presenting the good and the bad of every aspect of this longstanding face-off, and players on both sides of the fence at times come across as villains and as heroes as they make their cases and hold tight to their convictions, even when it means crossing the law. In this sense, the series does an impressive job of remaining unbiased and allowing the action to unfold in a truly realistic manner.

Of course, this being reality TV, the drama isn't limited to the whales' plight. There's plenty of interpersonal drama among friends and enemies, and subsequent seasons and spin-off specials like Whale Wars: Viking Shores allow more interaction between the activists and the whalers themselves. Not surprisingly this makes for plenty of heated exchanges and verbal and physical threats compiled with the ever-present dangers that exist among people who will stop at nothing for a cause that's near to their heart. In other words, it's not for families, but if your teens can stomach the content, this series offers plenty to discuss on the issues of conservation, personal freedom, and the balance between the two.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about the show's messages. What does it want viewers to take away from watching? Do you agree with the point it's trying to make? Is the content fair to both sides of the issue?

  • How do the cast members' personalities affect your response to their message? Is it possible to like a person's message and not care for the person himself? Do you think their radical actions are necessary for their cause to work?

  • Does this series change your feelings about conservation? What limits should exist on the reach of conservation efforts? In what ways can these efforts interfere with people's lifestyles? Which should take precedence?

TV details

Our editors recommend

For kids who love reality TV

Themes & Topics

Browse titles with similar subject matter.

Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.

See how we rate

Streaming options powered by JustWatch

About these links

Common Sense Media, a nonprofit organization, earns a small affiliate fee from Amazon or iTunes when you use our links to make a purchase. Thank you for your support.

Read more

Our ratings are based on child development best practices. We display the minimum age for which content is developmentally appropriate. The star rating reflects overall quality.

Learn how we rate