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Sea Shepherd crew engages in water cannon battle with Japanese whaling fleet vessel

December 22, 2009 |  4:02 pm
The Japanese harpoon vessel Shonan Maru 2 shoots water cannons at the Sea Shepherd vessel Steve Irwin (not pictured) The latest update from Paul Watson, captain of the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society flagship vessel Steve Irwin, was posted on the group's website today.

Watson tells of continued run-ins with the Shonan Maru 2, a Japanese whaling fleet ship that has been tailing the Steve Irwin since it left port en route to Antarctic waters to try to disrupt the annual whale hunt.

"The Japanese vessel moved in with water cannons  blazing. As they came closer, they turned on their LRAD's [Long Range Acoustical Device] and surprisingly they began to broadcast the following message over their loudspeaker: 'Steve Irwin, cease your aggressive action. Stop your aggressive action. We have the authority to repel you,' " reports Watson.

Watson contends that it is ridiculous to accuse the Steve Irwin of attacking the Shonan Maru 2, because the Japanese vessel is much faster and the crew of the Steve Irwin has been trying to get the vessel off their trail for 11 days.

The post continued, "The Shonan Maru 2 set off the collision alert system 14 times as it chased and circled the Steve Irwin.

"The crew of the Steve Irwin managed to deploy a stern protection line. The Shonan Maru 2 ran over the 100-meter long line and snapped it and then backed off. Water cannons from both ships made the crew on both ships very wet but there were no direct hits causing any injuries.

"After nearly two hours of harassment, the Shonan Maru 2 backed off. There was no visible indication that the vessel suffered prop damage."

A film crew from Animal Planet is onboard the Steve Irwin, and it sounds as if they will have a lot of interesting footage for the third season of the popular "Whale Wars" series.

--Kelly Burgess

Photo: The Japanese harpoon vessel Shonan Maru 2 shoots water cannons at the Sea Shepherd vessel Steve Irwin (not pictured). Credit: Barbara Veiga / Sea Shepherd Conservation Society/AFP/Getty Images