Way to go, whale-lovers!

After spending months scouring the Southern Ocean, a Japanese whaling fleet returned to port last week with much less than its quota of 850 of the mammals.

Several Japanese vessels headed toward Antarctic waters in January for the country’s annual whale expedition, but the hunt appears to have been stymied by a successful pursuit from anti-whaling vessels operated by Greenpeace and the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society.

The latter group, led by controversial captain Paul Watson, helped fend off the slaughter by traveling close to the fleet, which includes an enormous factory ship on which the harpooned whales are butchered and stored during the expedition.

Japan’s Fisheries Agency holds the annual hunt in the name of science, but critics note that the whale meat ends up on Japan’s commercial market.