Sea Shepherd is reporting today that three Japanese whaling ships moved in on the anti-whaling vessel the Steve Irwin in the Ross Sea off of Antarctica. “At 0500 Hours Sydney, Australia, time on February 4th, the three harpoon vessels of the Japanese whaling fleet literally attacked the Steve Irwin,” a statement reads.
Sea Shepherd accused the Japanese whalers of them of cutting dangerously close to the bow of the Steve Irwin in rough waters and fog. “If their intention was to intimidate us, it did not work,” said Captain Paul Watson. “When it comes to playing chicken on the high seas, we have much more experience than the whalers.”
Captain Watson also accused the whalers of throwing hunks of metal and golf balls at Sea Shepherd activists, slightly injuring two Steve Irwin crew members.
The Yushin Maru 2 has now rejoined the fleet after leaving the area on December 20th with propeller damage. The three harpoon ships converged to flank the Steve Irwin as the Sea Shepherd ship pursued the Nisshin Maru. “As long as we’re chasing them they’re not going to kill whales,” Captain Watson said. “Every day we can keep them from whaling and on the run is a victory for us.” He estimates the fleet has killed about 300 fin and minke whales this season, compared with almost 600 last season. “I know that they’re not going to get their quota again this year; they’re one vessel short.”
The Sea Shepherd statement adds: “The whaling fleet is crisscrossing the Ross Sea erratically. The whalers appear to becoming increasingly frustrated and angry that Sea Shepherd has shut down their whaling operations.”