Wednesday, February 11, 2009
Medical Implications of Physical Attacks on the Sea Shepherd Crew by the Japanese Whalers.
Report by Dr. David
Ship's Medical Officer - Steve Irwin
During the engagements between the Sea Shepherd crew and the Japanese whaling fleet I witnessed first hand the attacks on our crew by three methods.
- Water Cannons: Long range, high powered water hoses with enough pressure to break bones and cause severe soft tissue injury were aimed at individual crewmembers both in the small boats and onboard the Steve Irwin. One crewmember, a cameraman was hit in the face violently knocking him backwards off his seat and onto the deck of the small boat. He sustained a bleeding abrasion to the inner aspect of one eye and soft tissue bruising to his neck and lower back. In my opinion if the force had been taken in the middle part of his eye he would have sustained permanent eye damage. Another crewmember was knocked off his feet onboard the Steve Irwin. He also sustained soft tissue bruising and the risk of being knocked overboard and dying of hypothermia is a real risk in these waters where the survival time is measured in minutes.
- Throwing of heavy metal objects & other items including nuts and bolts and golf balls was deployed a number of times specifically at crew members. Numerous abrasions & bruises resulted to crewmembers. Facial bone fractures and eye damage was a very real possibility.
- Use of Long Range Acoustical Device (LRAD). This device transmits high decibel output up to 163 decibels. High and low frequency tones to distances beyond 500 metres. This device was aimed at Sea Shepherd crew while in the air in our helicopter and at crew in the small boats and onboard the Steve Irwin. High frequency tones were severely distracting with inner ear and balance affects. Crewmembers reported feeling temporary disorientation and balance problems. Low frequency tones can apparently cause significant nervous system affects. The affects of this device on individuals operating helicopters, small boats and the Steve Irwin are very severe. LRAD blasts were aimed at close quarters at the bridge of the Steve Irwin at the time of two separate collision incidents.
I am deeply disturbed by the unprovoked attacks against Sea Shepherd crew. We were extremely fortunate that no severe injuries occurred.
I urge the Australian government to call on the Japanese government to assure that such attacks do not occur in the future.