'/> Uncommon Hours: The REALLY Forgotten War: Saving the Whales in the South Seas
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Monday, February 2, 2009

The REALLY Forgotten War: Saving the Whales in the South Seas

Sea Shepherd crew pursue Japanese factory whaling ship, the Nisshin Maru
(Photo by Stephen Roest/Sea Shepherd Conservation Society)

The Japanese whaler Nisshin Maru attacked protesters in the South Seas with water cannons, golf balls, chunks of metal, and deafening noise blasters, as the activists attempted to put themselves between the whaler's harpoons and their targets.

Here's the account from Sea Shepherd's website:

"A crewmember from the Steve Irwin was slightly injured after being struck by a high pressure water cannon fired from the Japanese whaling factory ship Nisshin Maru. One of the cameramen on one of the Steve Irwin's inflatable boats was cut and bruised above the eye when a high pressure blast of water knocked him off his feet while he was filming.

"A second crew member was also injured in the confrontation with the whalers. Laurens De Groot of the Netherlands was slightly injured when struck in the face by a metal ball thrown by whalers. Whalers onboard the Yushin Maru #3 threw solid brass and lead balls at crewmembers on one of the Steve Irwin's inflatable boats.

"The Sea Shepherd crew also discovered that the Japanese whaling fleet is deploying a new weapon in defence of their illegal whaling activities.

"The factory ship the Nisshin Maru and the two harpoon vessels in the fleet are equipped with Long Range Acoustical Devices (LRAD). This is a military grade weapon system that sends out mid to high frequency sound waves designed to disorient and possibly incapacitate personnel. It is basically an anti-personnel weapons system.

"The Steve Irwin has been chasing the Japanese whaling fleet for twenty-four hours at high speed through scattered ice fields and changing weather conditions for over three hundred miles westward across the top of the Ross Sea.

"At 0500 Hours (Sydney Time) the Steve Irwin deployed two fast inflatable boats and a helicopter to harass the fleet and to hurry them along. Sea Shepherd's strategy is to keep the whaling fleet on the move. If they are running they are not killing whales and no whales have been killed during the last 24 hours. In fact the Steve Irwin crew were excited to see Fin whales swimming alongside the ship as they pursued the whaling fleet.

"The Japanese harpoon vessels have been maneuvering very close to the Steve Irwin to intimidate and to try and lead the Sea Shepherd ship away from the Nisshin Maru. The confrontation that began in clear weather in dense ice and heavy swells became increasing treacherous as fog and blizzard conditions moved in around 0900 Hours.

"The Steve Irwin crew retreated when within range of the acoustic weapons. 'All we need to do is to keep them running and to keep them from whaling and that is exactly what we are doing. It is proving to be a very successful day,' said Captain Paul Watson.

"Weather conditions are becoming increasing worse with heavy snow, fog, increasing swells and denser ice conditions."

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