The Japanese whalers have escalated their aggression by throwing iron grappling hooks at Sea Shepherd boats.
Two Steve Irwin crew were struck in the shoulder with iron grappling hooks and one crewmember was struck twice in the face with a long bamboo pole.
The Yushin Maru No. 2 continues to tail the Steve Irwin. The incident occurred at 0400 Hours AEST at 64 degrees 17 minutes South and 155 degrees 41 minutes East. This is about 300 miles north of Mawson Peninsula off the George V Land coast of Antarctica.
"Our small boats were attempting to slow down the Japanese harpoon vessel Yushin Maru No. 2, which is aggressively tailing the Steve Irwin," said Captain Paul Watson.
American crewmember Brian Race, (25) from New York, was jabbed twice in the face with a bamboo pole receiving lacerations above his right eye and on his nose.
Russell Bergh of South Africa, (35) a cameraman for Animal Planet, was struck in the right arm and shoulder with an iron grappling hook thrown from the harpoon vessel resulting in deep bruising.
Photographer Guillaume Collet of France, (27) was also struck in the right arm and shoulder by an iron grappling hook resulting in deep bruising.
There were no injuries incurred by any of the crew on the Japanese vessel.
Two of the three harpoon vessels have been assigned to tail Sea Shepherd ships, effectively knocking out two of the three killing boats.
"We are almost at the limit of the eastern boundary of their self assigned hunting area," said Captain Watson. "We should be getting close."
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