Sea Shepherd News

A Dangerous Pursuit through a Maze of Ice

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For three stressful days, the Sea Shepherd ship, Steve Irwin, has been leading the Japanese harpoon vessel, Yushin Maru No. 3, deeper into the pack ice of the northeast part of the Ross Sea.

“In order to close in on the Nisshin Maru, we must lose the tail of the Yushin Maru No. 3,” said Captain Paul Watson. “It is difficult because the Japanese hunting and killing ships are faster and more maneuverable than we are. So far we have had two skirmishes with the whalers in the last two days. Giacomo Giorgi (30) of Italy was injured slightly when he was struck in the hip with a long pole by one of the whalers.”

The crew on the three Sea Shepherd inflatable boats hit the Yushin Maru No. 3 with rotten butter and red paint. They also managed to temporarily obstruct the harpoon vessel. Unfortunately, the small boats could not slow down the harpoon vessel enough for the Steve Irwin to get away. The Yushin Maru No. 3 has been smashing through ice floes in an effort to keep on the tail of the Steve Irwin but does not seem to have suffered any damage. A couple of seasons ago, the same Yushin Maru No. 3 sustained damage in the ice and had to head to Indonesia for repairs to their propeller.

“We have been seriously handicapped by not having our scout vessel, the Brigitte Bardot,” said Captain Watson. “When we return next season we will do so with two scout vessels plus the two larger ships. Last year we were able to find them, close in on them and block them, forcing them to return to Japan. This year we can find them but we can’t close in enough to block them without a scout ship. Due to the generous donations from people all over the world who donated money to help the victims of the tsunami and earthquake of last March, the money was made available to send the Cetacean Death Star back to the Southern Ocean. I guess we can label this season’s campaign as “'The Empire Strikes Back.'”

Steve Irwin and YM3 in pack ice
The Steve Irwin makes its way through pack ice
with the Yushin Maru No. 3 tailing behind
photo: Billy Danger / Sea Shepherd

Yushin Maru 3 in pack ice
The Yushin Maru No. 3 breaks its way through

pack ice to keep up with the Steve Irwin
photo: Billy Danger / Sea Shepherd

Sea Shepherd Chases the Japanese Whalers into Yesterday

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Yushin Maru 2Yushin Maru 2The Japanese whaling fleet are not where they should be this time of year.

Last year the fleet was operating in the Ross Sea. This year their “scientific survey” was supposed to take place in the waters south and west of Tasmania, east and south of South Africa.

Every year they alternate. But not this year! Although the whalers attempted to begin their killing operations in the waters southwest of Australia, the Sea Shepherd ships have chased the entire whaling fleet ever eastward. At 1700 hours AEST, the Bob Barker encountered the Yushin Maru No. 3 at 66 Degrees, 22 minutes South and 179 Degrees, 05 minutes West.

From being intercepted 500 miles west of Fremantle, Australia, the Japanese fleet has run over 4,500 nautical miles for the last 30 days, all the way into the Ross Sea, far to the East of Australia. This is an average of 150 miles a day, leaving very little time to kill whales with only one harpoon vessel. The other two harpoon vessels have either been tailing or searching for the Sea Shepherd ships.

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Three Sea Shepherd Crew Injured in Skirmish with Japanese Harpoon Vessel

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Three Sea Shepherd Crew Injured in Skirmish with Japanese Harpoon Vessel on SurfSister.com.au

The Japanese whalers have escalated their aggression by throwing iron grappling hooks at Sea Shepherd boats.

Two Steve Irwin crew were struck in the shoulder with iron grappling hooks and one crewmember was struck twice in the face with a long bamboo pole.

The Yushin Maru No. 2 continues to tail the Steve Irwin. The incident occurred at 0300 hours AEST at 64 degrees 17 minutes South and 155 degrees 41 minutes East. This is about 300 miles north of Mawson Peninsula off the George V Land coast of Antarctica.

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Sea Shepherd Dancing Dangerously With the Outlaw Whaling Fleet in the Southern Ocean Whale Sanctuary

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The Yushin Maru #3 with MacQuarie in the background, taken from the bridge of the Bob Barker photo: Carolina A Castro

The nautical chess pieces continue to move and the board keeps changing in the Southern Ocean Whale Sanctuary.

The Shonan Maru #2 is no longer chasing the Steve Irwin. The security vessel has been replaced by the harpoon vessel Yushin Maru #2.

It is assumed that the Shonan Maru #2 will now head west towards the Australian Customs vessel Ocean Protector to turn over the three Australian prisoners onboard.

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Japanese Harpoon Vessel enters the Australian Twelve Mile Limit

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Emboldened by their ability to enter the Australian contiguous zone without penalty, where they subsequently detained and removed three Australian citizens, the Japanese have now taken things one step further by entering the twelve mile limit of the Australian territorial waters surrounding MacQuarie Island.

The Yushin Maru #3 is presently (at 1400 Hours AEST) 5 nautical miles off the beach at MacQuarie Island. The Sea Shepherd ship Bob Barker was attempting to shake the tail of the Yushin Maru #3 at MacQuarie.

According to a 2008 order of the Australian Federal Court, Japanese whaling vessels are prohibited from entering the territorial waters of Australia.

The Steve Irwin is now 400 miles south of Australia with the Shonan Maru #2 in pursuit at a distance of 10 nautical miles. The three Australian men who boarded the Japanese vessel remain detained on the ship.

MacQuarie Island is also a World Heritage Site and a whale killing vessel has no business in the waters of a World Heritage Site.

Japanese Harpoon Vessel enters the Australian Twelve Mile Limit on SurfSister.com.au

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