Update from the frontlines in the Southern Ocean
January 14, 2011, 1400 hours AEST/January 13, 2011, 1900 hours PST
Panamanian-registered, Korean-owned tanker the Sun Laurel has complied with Sea Shepherd Conservation Society's request to remove itself from the Antarctic Treaty zone. The ship is now north of 60 degrees and continues to be followed by both the Steve Irwin and the Bob Barker. The Bob Barker in turn, is being followed and tailed by the Yushin Maru No. 2, and the Steve Irwin is being followed by the Yushin Maru No. 1.
This morning, the Yushin Maru No. 1 replaced the Yushin Maru No. 3 as the tail on the Steve Irwin. This means that as of this morning all three harpoon vessels were within sight of the Sea Shepherd ships. Therefore, the Nisshin Maru factory ship would presumably be over 200 miles away in order to stay out of the Sea Shepherd helicopter's range.
It is a certainty that there is no possibility of whaling today. Sea Shepherd has every reason to also believe that based on the fact that two of the three harpoon vessels have been under continuous observation for the past 15 days, and due to the great distance of over 2,000 miles covered by the whaling fleet since being located on December 31, 2010, there has been very little time to hunt, load, and process whales.
The harpooners have been taking turns refueling from the Nisshin Maru, but soon those supplies will run low as well and the Nisshin Maru will need the heavy oil (bunker C) cargo presently in the hold of the Sun Laurel. The Bob Barker and the Steve Irwin will stay with the supply ship and will aggressively interfere with any attempts at refueling and resupply.
After successfully finding the Sun Laurel supply vessel, the Gojira has since left to scout in search of the Nisshin Maru.
There is no doubt that the Japanese whaling fleet has been severely crippled this whaling season. With a third of the whaling season behind them, with two of the three harpoon vessels tied up with their supplies cut off and constantly being on the run, the whale kill quota has been reduced to zero, or very close to it.
Sea Shepherd has two months left until the whaling season is over, which means 60 more days at sea. We have the fuel, the resources, and a crew committed to this campaign whose morale has already been bolstered by our successes this year. The captains and the crews of all three Sea Shepherd ships are confident of a very successful year in neutralizing illegal whaling activities in the Southern Ocean Whale Sanctuary.
The Japanese whaling ships presently in the Southern Ocean include: the Nisshin Maru factory ship, the three Yushin Maru harpoon vessels (Nos. 1, 2 and 3), and the Sun Laurel supply vessel.
The three Sea Shepherd ships opposing the whalers include: the Steve Irwin, the Bob Barker, and the Gojira, along with the Nancy Burnet helicopter.