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Sea Shepherd crew logs season's first clash with Japanese whalers

December 14, 2009 |  5:14 pm

News_091214_1_3_BV_Shonan_Maru_1065 A prolonged game of cat-and-mouse between the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society and a vessel from the Japanese whaling fleet today turned into the first clash this season between the adversaries, according to the group that is en route to Antarctic waters to try to disrupt the annual whale hunt.

Sea Shepherd posted on its website a short story stating its flagship vessel, Steve Irwin, after several days of being followed by the Shonan Maru 2, emerged from its hiding place behind an iceberg and crews on both vessels engaged in a brief fight with water cannons.

The Japanese harpoon vessel was placed on an evasive course and Capt. Paul Watson of the Steve Irwin kept up a pursuit for two hours before resuming a course toward Antarctica. Watson believes the harpoon vessel has been following the Steve Irwin in order to keep the rest of the whaling fleet aware of its whereabouts. Watson is hoping to use the thicker bergs ahead, and the shelter they provide, to lose the shadow vessel.

"We will use the icebergs and the ice floes to our advantage," Watson said. "I’ve observed today that I am a more experienced ice navigator than the Japanese captain chasing us. We need to get him to follow us into the ice fields and let the ice work for us."

-- Pete Thomas

Photo: Sea Shepherd's anti-whaling vessel, Steve Irwin, with a Japanese whaling ship off its bow. Credit: Barbara Veiga/Sea Shepherd