Whalers and Whale Defenders Clash for the First Time This Season

The first clash between whalers and whale defenders took place on December 14th when the Steve Irwin and the Shonan Maru #2 exchanged shots with their water cannons.

The Shonan Maru #2 has been following the Steve Irwin from Fremantle since December 9th. At 1400 Hours (Melbourne time) the Steve Irwin went around an iceberg, did a figure eight out of view of the Shonan Maru #2 and re-emerged within a quarter of a mile of the Japanese whaler’s portside quarter catching the whalers completely by surprise.

A pursuit began and the Shonan Maru #2 turned on two water cannons. The crew of the Steve Irwin immediately responded by placing their water cannon in readiness. The Shonan Maru #2 and the Steve Irwin were engaged in a high speed pursuit for two hours before Captain Watson decided to break off the pursuit to resume course to the coast of Antarctica.

The Japanese whalers are spending a great deal of money, first locating the Steve Irwin by air and then directing the Shonan Maru #2 to the coordinates of the Sea Shepherd vessel. By staying on the tail of the Steve Irwin, the harpoon vessel is able to keep the rest of the fleet aware of the Sea Shepherd position. Captain Paul Watson needs to lose the tail of the Shonan Maru #2 in order to locate the whaling fleet. He is counting on heavier ice conditions to assist in this effort.

“We will use the icebergs and the ice floes to our advantage.” Said Captain Paul Watson. “I’ve observed today that I am a more experienced ice navigator than the Japanese captain chasing us. We need to get him to follow us into the ice fields and let the ice work for us.”

The Steve Irwin crew were left wet, but in good spirits after the confrontation.

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Sea Shepherd Evades Pursuit by Japanese Whaling Fleet Security Vessel

The Sea Shepherd ship Steve Irwin has successfully left the Australian Economic Zone (EEZ) without any sign of the Japanese whaling fleet security ship Shonan Maru No. 2.

The Steve Irwin departed from Hobart at 1800 Hours on December 31st and took advantage of gale force winds and heavy swells to slip past the waiting Japanese vessel.

“It’s a big ocean down here they have no idea where we are,” said Captain Paul Watson. “I’m now confident that we can proceed with our search for the Japanese whaling fleet without further interference from the Shonan Maru No. 2.”

The Sea Shepherd vessel Ady Gil is patrolling the Southern Ocean in advance of the Steve Irwin in search of the fleet.

The Shonan Maru No. 2 was waiting for the Steve Irwin when it left Fremantle on December 7th. The Japanese had chartered an aircraft out of Albany to locate the conservation vessel. They then relayed the Steve Irwin’s position to the Shonan Maru No. 2 to enable the Japanese security vessel to intercept the Steve Irwin.

The Steve Irwin was unable to lose the pursuit of the Shonan Maru No. 2 for more than two weeks. Only by returning to Tasmania was the tail lost because Japanese whaling ships are prohibited from entering Australian territorial waters.

“Thanks to the stormy weather, there was no possibility of a chartered flight locating the Steve Irwin and we were able to pass back into international waters without any sign of the Shonan Maru No. 2,” said Captain Watson. “They will be hard pressed to locate us now and without them on our tail, I am confident that we will be able to track down the whale poachers in the Australian Antarctic Territory.”
“It was awesome seeing them run like cowards when we turned on them,” said Third Mate Vincent Hayes from Williamstown in Victoria.