It has been a week since Sea Shepherd shut down all whaling activities by the Japanese whaling fleet. Not one whale has died in the last week, and Sea Shepherd's next goal is to turn this shut down into a second week and then a third.
"We will not tolerate the death of a single whale while we are chasing this gang of poachers," said Captain Chuck Swift of the Bob Barker.
The Institute for Cetacean Research (ICR) issued a media release today claiming that three Japanese whalers had been injured by Sea Shepherd in the confrontation on Thursday.
The Sea Shepherd Conservation Society rejects this claim.
"This is just the latest ploy by Japan to gain sympathy," said Captain Paul Watson. "The Shonan Maru 2, the Yushin Maru 1 and the Yushin Maru 2 attacked the Sea Shepherd ship Steve Irwin and attempted to destroy the Sea Shepherd helicopter on the deck with high powered water cannons. The crew of the Steve Irwin retaliated by firing warning flares and using a Delta inflatable to toss bottles of rotten butter onto the decks of the whalers. It was a very tense five-hour confrontation, but there were no collisions and no injuries."
Claims by Japan that rotten butter caused injuries to sailors is bogus. The Japanese whalers are always claiming that Sea Shepherd is throwing acid at them, insinuating that it is a caustic liquid like sulfuric acid, when in fact it is simply rotten butter, which is also known as butyric acid (just as milk has lactic acid and orange juice has citric acid). Butyric acid is a foul smelling substance but does not cause harm upon skin contact. It is less acidic than beer.
The Sea Shepherd ships did not attempt to foul the propellers of the Japanese whalers as claimed by the ICR. Both the Bob Barker and the Steve Irwin deployed a long hawser astern of both ships to discourage the harpoons vessels from making intimidating attacks with water cannons and Long Range Acoustical Weapons (LRADs). The only danger of entanglement was when the harpoon vessels approached the Sea Shepherd ships. Deployment of prop fouling gear is defensive and not offensive.
The three harpoon vessels in the Japanese fleet are faster and more maneuverable than the two Sea Shepherd ships. Japanese claims that Sea Shepherd attacks their ships are ridiculous, considering that Sea Shepherd ships do not have the speed to intercept a harpoon vessel. Sea Shepherd inflatable boats are deployed to toss the rotten butter bombs onto the decks of the Japanese whalers.
The Japanese accusation that the Steve Irwin uses a water cannon are amusing considering that there are six water cannons on the Nisshin Maru and two each on the harpoon vessels. This means 12 water cannons to Sea Shepherd's one. Sea Shepherd mounted a water cannon for this year's campaign to defend itself from water cannon attacks by the whalers.
The Sea Shepherd Conservation Society strongly condemns the Japanese whaling fleet for reentering the Southern Ocean Whale Sanctuary and intends to prevent any illegal whaling activities in the Sanctuary. All illegal whaling operations have been shut down for the last week and Sea Shepherd intends to shut down operations for another week to cost the Japanese whaling fleet profits and to cut the lethal kill quota.
photos credit: Barbara Veiga / Sea Shepherd