While waiting for the Japanese fleet to arrive in the Southern Ocean, Sea Shepherd's helicopter the Nancy Burnet developed a potential problem requiring a spare part that the ship did not have onboard. Captain Paul Watson decided that the potential risk to pilot Chris Aultman and any crew flying in the helicopter was not worth taking if there was no need to, and he made the decision to head north to Bluff on the southern end of New Zealand's South Island.
This essential part for the helicopter is being secured immediately and a qualified technician will oversee its installation. In addition to the repair, the Steve Irwin will top-off her fuel tanks and restock with some additional fresh produce.
The ship was greeted upon arrival in Bluff by Mayor Tim Shadbolt of Invercargill who also personally donated a large load of fresh produce. Local Sea Shepherd onshore volunteer Grant Meikle, provided transportation and assistance to the crew.
By our calculations, and based on the estimated speed of the Japanese fleet and their departure date from Japan, they should still be north of New Zealand and thus we will still anticipate their late arrival into the waters of the Southern Ocean Whale Sanctuary. They have broken their so-called scientific protocol and expanded their area of operations in order to avoid us so we will spread out our three vessels in order to intercept them.
It is always a difficult task to locate the fleet and this year will be even more difficult than most. The Japanese whalers will no doubt spend a great deal of money trying to avoid us and our fleet of three. "All I can say is that the hunt is on and we intend to hunt down the whaling fleet before they can begin their annual orgy of slaughter against these magnificent sentient beings in the international Southern Ocean Whale Sanctuary," said Sea Shepherd's campaign leader Captain Paul Watson. "Once we get on their tails, we intend to put an end to their criminal operations."