Animal Planet has announced Whale Wars will return for a fifth season and premiere in June 2012.

Whale Wars' upcoming season will chronicle Captain Paul Watson and the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society's next whale defense campaign in Antarctica known as Operation Divine Wind, which launched in Australia and is currently underway and expected to run until the end of February.

The Sea Shepherd's Operation Divine Wind campaign will feature a crew of nearly 100 international volunteers and the participation of all three vessels which were featured on this past summer's fourth season of Whale Wars: the Steve Irwin, the Bob Barker and the recently renamed Brigitte Bardot -- which was formerly known as the Gojira. 

Similar to their previous Southern Ocean campaigns, Operation Divine Wind will feature the Sea Shepherds attempting to find and stop Japanese ships from hunting whales and protest other serious conservation issues and ocean-law violations. 

Whale Wars' future had been in doubt because it was uncertain whether the Japanese whalers, who had ended their 2010-2011 season prematurely due to the effectiveness of the Sea Shepherd's campaign, would be mounting a 2011-2012 whaling season.

However, the whalers did opt to undertake a 2011-2012 hunt, resulting in the Sea Shepherds launching a corresponding defense campaign for the eighth straight year. 

"Whale Wars has been ground-breaking and riveting television, because each side is willing to risk it all in the Southern Ocean," Marjorie Kaplan, president of Animal Planet, said in a statement. "Last year, we all thought the Sea Shepherds had ended whaling but now they are once again preparing to risk much for what they believe in."

"It makes little political or economic sense for the Japanese fleet to return to whale in the Antarctic waters," Watson added. "But it appears their motivation has shifted from hunting whales to refusing to surrender to Sea Shepherd."

Many of Whale Wars' former crew members will return for the show's fifth season. In addition to Watson, Peter Hammarstedt and Lockheart MacLean will rejoin their fellow activists, along with Peter Brown, who will return to the Sea Shepherd campaign after being absent the last two seasons.

The fifth season of Whale Wars is being executive produced by Liz Bronstein and Jason Carey.