High-seas drama

Japanese whalers and conservationists clash in Southern Ocean

Photo courtesy of Sea Shepard Conservation Society

Japanese whaling vessels and the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society have commenced their annual clashes in the Southern Ocean.

Harpoon vessel Shonan Maru No. 2 chased and circled the Sea Shepherd’s ship, setting off its collision alert 14 times, according to a press release from Sea Shepherd. The captain of the Japanese vessel then announced that Sea Shepherd’s vessel, the Steve Irwin, would be held against Japanese federal law.

The captain of the Japanese ship claimed that the Sea Shepherd was attacking the whaling vessel. The conservation society called the claim “ridiculous,” noting that the Steve Irwin (pictured) had been attempting to get the Japanese vessel off its trail for more than a week.

The crew of the Steve Irwin deployed a stern protection line, which the Japanese vessel ran over and snapped. After nearly two hours of confrontation, the vessel backed off. The Steve Irwin suffered no visible prop damage and will continue its anti-whaling mission in Antarctic waters.