The Sea Shepherd Conservation Society ship Steve Irwin has joined the search for missing Japanese seaman Hajime Shiraskai 30. Shirasaki fell off the Kyoshin Maru No. 2 and is believed lost at sea.
The Steve Irwin is presently with the Japanese whaling fleet at the position of 62 Degrees 17 Minutes South and 144 Degrees 50 Minutes West. This is 1800 miles Southeast of Dunedin, New Zealand and 2600 miles Southeast of Hobart, Australia.
Captain Paul Watson informed the fleet that the Sea Shepherd crew had no intention of harassing the whaling vessels while they are engaged in a search for the missing crewman's body. Captain Watson offered the Steve Irwin, two boat crews and a helicopter to assist in the search.
The Yushin Maru No 3 responded and declined Sea Shepherd's offer of assistance saying that they would not accept help from an "eco-terrorist organization."
Captain Watson answered that the Sea Shepherd crew would assist in the search nonetheless and would not interfere with the whalers while engaged in the search mission.
The Steve Irwin has deployed two boat crews and a helicopter to search the area for the body of the missing seaman.
The Steve Irwin has over extended it's time to join in this search and will have to cut off and begin to return to port within 12 hours
Hobart is 10 days away and Dunedin is 7 days away. The Steve Irwin is planning on heading back to Hobart in Tasmania.
Sea Shepherd encounters Kyoshin Maru No. 2
All photos: Eric Cheng / Sea Shepherd Conservation Society