|Friday, March 07, 2008|
Japanese Open Fire on Sea Shepherd Crew: Three Injured
Captain Paul Watson Shot in Chest; Cameraman and Crewmember Injured by Flash Grenades
At 1545 hours (0445 GMT), a clash between the crew of the Sea Shepherd vessel Steve Irwin and the Japanese whaling ship Nisshin Maru turned violent when the Japanese Coast Guard began to throw flash grenades at the crew of the Steve Irwin.
Captain Paul Watson was struck by a bullet in the chest. Fortunately, the bullet was stopped by his Kevlar vest. The bullet struck just above the heart and mangled Captain Watson's anti-poaching badge, which was worn on his sweater underneath the Kevlar vest.
Dr. David Page was videotaped prying the bullet from Captain Watson's Kevlar vest. "You have been hit by a bullet," he said.
The Kevlar vest and anti-poaching badge effectively saved Captain Watson's life.
Additional injuries were sustained by crewmembers Ashley Dunn and Ralph Lowe. Dunn, 35, from Launceston, Australia suffered a hip injury when he tried to get out of the way of the exploding grenades. Lowe, 33, from Melbourne, Australia received bruises to his back when one of the flash grenades exploded behind him.
The Japanese Coast Guard was retaliating against Sea Shepherd crewmembers for tossing rotten butter onto the decks to discourage their illegal whaling activities. The clash came after a week long pursuit by the Steve Irwin of the Nisshin Maru, in an effort to stop illegal whaling activities in the Southern Ocean Whale Sanctuary.
Earlier in the day at 0800 hours (1900 GMT), the Steve Irwin had ordered the Nisshin Maru to leave French territorial waters. The Japanese whaler complied and turned around, heading back west into Australian waters.The confrontation occurred inside the Australian Territorial Zone at the position of 63 Degrees, 41 Minutes South and 133 Degrees, 27 Minutes East.