Sea Shepherd Conservation Society's ship, the Steve Irwin, has broken off its pursuit of the Nisshin Maru to focus on the harpoon vessels to the south.
At 1200 hours, Sea Shepherd changed course and began to head due south, as the Nisshin Maru continued westward. Contact was broken off with the Japanese factory ship at 63 degrees, 42 minutes south and 124 degrees, 56 minutes east.
"We have chased the factory ship for a solid week as they ran full out, back and forth across the Southern Ocean," said Captain Paul Watson, Founder and President of Sea Shepherd. "After a chase of 1,776 nautical miles and three confrontations, I've decided to go investigate what the Yusshin Maru No. 2 is doing. We still have a working tracking device on that ship, so we know that it is less than half a day away and probably up to no good."
The whaling ships cannot kill whales without having the Nisshin Maru around to process them, and the Nisshin Maru cannot do any work without harpoon vessels to kill the whales. So knowing where the Yusshin Maru No.2 is allows the Steve Irwin to break away from the Nisshin Maru and continue to foil whaling efforts.
With at most only 12 days left in the whaling season, the whalers are desperate to kill as many whales as they can. They have yet to reach even half their quota.
"I think we can safely say that we have effectively spoiled their whaling season and made an impact on their profits from illegal whaling," said Steve Irwin 2nd Officer Peter Hammarstedt, 23, from Stockholm, Sweden.
Sea Shepherd has had an independent film crew onboard, filming on behalf of Animal Planet, since the beginning of the campaign. In a statement issued today from Silver Springs, Maryland, the network said: "The events that have taken place were all captured by Animal Planet's producers and will be presented through the documentary series WHALE WARS, slated for U.S. broadcast this fall. Animal Planet is thankful that all parties to these conflicts over the last three months to-date are safe and unharmed. The network will showcase these events with a strong journalistic lens that spotlights this global conservation issue that has several nations at odds over the practice of whaling in oceanic territories."