Sea Shepherd Intercepts the Illegal Nisshin Maru Factory Ship
Photos coming soon
At 2115 NZST, on February 9th, 2011, the Sea Shepherd vessel Gojira picked up a target on its radar and turned to investigate. The large beige colored A-frames of the Nisshin Maru were soon visible to Captain Locky MacLean over the horizon, and the Gojira closed in at full speed to intercept the illegal Japanese factory ship.
By 2230, the Gojira was engaged in a skirmish and the Nisshin Maru was alerted by radio that Sea Shepherd would not allow the Nisshin Maru to continue its illegal whaling operations. The Sea Shepherd vessel Bob Barker was alerted, and Captain Alex Cornelissen immediately began closing the 28-nautical mile gap towards the south.
As Gojira initially approached the Nisshin Maru, it seemed to be engaged in flensing operations; work lights were illuminating the rear deck, water was being flushed over the sides, and brown-red stains were visible along the aft deck of the vessel around the scuppers/drain holes. Two nets were visible at the stern on either side of the slipway and trailing in the wake of the ship, and black smoke bellowed from the smoke stack of the illegal ocean-going abattoir.
The Gojira was stopped in its pursuit of the Nisshin Maru by large ice growlers as the factory ship turned into the thick ice floes to escape. While in an area of growlers and loose pack ice, the Gojira had to stop dead in the water as the Nisshin Maru proceeded to bear down on her. Despite several VHF calls to alter course, the Nisshin Maru closed in on the Gojira. When the Nisshin Maru was only 40 meters away, Captain MacLean fired a flare to signal Nisshin Maru to alter her course. The Nisshin Maru altered course to starboard and left the stopped Gojira 20 meters off her port side. The factory ship proceeded to the south towards an area of pack ice.
At 0220 on February 10th, the Nisshin Maru and one of the Japanese harpoon boats entered thick pack ice after several hours of pursuit, with the Gojira keeping up by skirting the ice edge and meeting the Nisshin Maru on the far side of each flow using her speed advantage. As of 0253, the Nisshin Maru was slowly maneuvering through thick pack ice with one of the Yushin Maru harpooners. Both vessels were still well within the Gojira's visual and radar range.
The Bob Barker was approaching, and is likely on the scene by now. The most current position is: 74 degrees 16 minutes south and 149 degrees 02 minutes west.