Since February 6th, the Sea Shepherd ships Steve Irwin and Bob Barker have had the Japanese whaling factory ship Nisshin Maru under constant pursuit. The chase has covered 5,100 miles going in every possible direction without any clear destination.
"The whalers seem to be practicing 'spin the bottle' navigation," said Sea Shepherd helicopter pilot Chris Aultman, "At different set times of the day, the course is changed as if the officer coming on watch simply spins a bottle and goes in that direction."
Yesterday, the Nisshin Maru led the Steve Irwin and the Bob Barker down a dead-end corridor between massive icebergs straight into a dense floe of ice. The Nisshin Maru ventured into the ice, and the two Sea Shepherd ships followed. After hours of getting stuck and going nowhere, the Nisshin Maru backtracked and left the ice field the way it went in. The Nisshin Maru had then headed North, then West, and this morning decided to head East again.
"From their maneuvers it is obvious that the Japanese are not very experienced with ice navigation," said Steve Irwin First Officer Locky MacLean, "Our Captain is a very experienced ice navigator so leading us into the ice to attempt to shake us off is like tossing Br'er rabbit into the briar patch. We're right at home in the ice, the whalers obviously are not."
The Nisshin Maru is riding very high in the water. The depth marker on the bow is showing less than two meters. It was four meters when the pursuit started. They have used a great deal of fuel in this pursuit and it does not appear that they have a great amount of whale meat onboard.
"There is approximately three weeks left in the whaling season before the weather turns nastier than it is now," said Captain Paul Watson on the Steve Irwin, "We will be able to stay with the fleet into March. I am confident that our objective of cutting kill quotas in half will be achieved."