Whaling factory ship found by Sea Shepherd activists in the Ross Sea
This has been a disasterous year for the Japanese whaling fleet in the Southern Ocean whale sanctuary. The Sea Shepherd Conservation Society has fielded 3 ships taking out of action two harpoon vessels while the Nisshin Maru fled accompanied by one harpoon ship. Now the Nisshin Maru has been found in the Ross Sea.
While the Nisshin Maru fled from Sea Shepherd, no whaling could occur. Sea Shepherd have also intercepted the Sun Laurel refueling vessel and cut off supplies and fuel to the Nisshin Maru and the rest of her whaling fleet. On January 14 the Captain of the Sun Laurel complied with Sea Shepherd's request to remove itself from the Antarctic Treaty zone.
Since December 31st when the whaling fleet arrived and were detected by Sea Shepherd, very few whales have been able to be caught and slaughtered. In 26 days the Nisshin Maru has fled over 4,000 miles.
While both the Bob Barker and Steve Irwin escorted the Sun Laurel out of the treaty zone the Nisshin Maru was able to slow down enough in the Ross Sea for one harpoon ship to engage in its slaughter. When the Steve Irwin found the Nisshin Maru today one whale was on the deck being butchered.
"We finally have this serial killing death ship where we want them, and from here on in, we intend to ride their ass until the end of the whaling season," said Captain Paul Watson from onboard the Steve Irwin. "This whaling fleet belongs to us now - lock, stock, and smoking harpoon gun."
One of the innovative ways Sea Shepherd has used to help it locate the Nisshin Maru this season is through weather balloons launched from the Gojira equipped with remote cameras and radar detectors. They have been effective. However the Gojira developed a problem with their fuel pumps and Captain Locky MacLean returned to Hobart to replace the pumps, passing information on the location of the Nisshin Maru back to the Steve Irwin.
"As in any conflict in a remote area, things do go wrong. I had to send the Gojira back to Hobart for some quick repairs on the new marine diesel engines we installed in November 2010. However, the Gojira will be able to return to the Southern Ocean before the Steve Irwin is forced to return to port to refuel. The Bob Barker has sufficient fuel reserves to stay with the fleet well into March, by which time the Steve Irwin will return with fuel reserves to extend Sea Shepherd's intervention to the end of the whaling season." said Paul Watson in a report on January 23.
The Bob Barker, after trailing the Sun Laurel has also returned to pursue the factory ship and is now some 300 miles away and closing.
The whaling fleet is now in the Ross Sea fleeing eastward through thick ice being purued. "We are well on our way to economically sinking this whaling fleet," said Captain Watson. "We will now chase them through the frozen gates of hell if need be, but we will stop their illegal whaling operations...I am confident of that!" said Captain Paul Watson from the Steve Irwin.
"It is my hope that Operation No Compromise will be the last Sea Shepherd campaign to the Southern Ocean, but if the Japanese fleet does return in December of this year, we intend to be down here once again to greet them. Sea Shepherd will not retreat until the Southern Ocean Whale Sanctuary is recognized and protected as a Sanctuary in practice, not just in words." said Paul Watson.
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- Sea Shepherd locates whaling fleet before the slaughter
- Sea Shepherd, Jan 25, 2011 - Sea Shepherd Successfully finds the Nisshin Maru
- Sea Shepherd, Jan 23, 2011, Report from Captain Paul Watson - Halfway Through Operation No Compromise
- Photos copyright Barbara Veiga / Sea Shepherd