This season, the Japanese whalers mean business when it comes to the pesky Sea Shepherd Conservation Society.
That became apparent Wednesday in the Southern Ocean when the Ady Gil, Sea Shepherd's futuristic speed boat, was struck and crippled by a Japanese whaling ship.
A profanity-laced video shot from Sea Shepherd's new vessel, the Bob Barker, shows the Shonan Maru No. 2 colliding with the much smaller 79-foot craft.Strangely, those aboard the Bob Barker were chuckling as this was occurring, as if they were not overly concerned or simply could not believe what they were witnessing.
According to Sea Shepherd, six crew members who were aboard the Ady Gil, had to be rescued. One suffered broken ribs.
The crew of the Japanese ship seemed to veer just before impact, perhaps avoiding disaster. Japan's Institute of Cetacean Research, which supports the whaling mission, claimed on its website that the Ady Gil had earlier attacked another of its vessels, the Nisshin Maru. The Ady Gil crew, according to the ICR, had been towing a rope with the intent to entangle the Japanese vessel’s rudder and propeller.
The ICR states: "Further, the activists on board the Ady Gil recurrently shoot a green laser device aiming at the Nisshin Maru crew and fired butyric acid-containing ball-like projectiles with a launching device. One of these projectiles landed in the Nisshin Maru’s deck."
The ICR also implied the collision was the fault of the Ady Gil crew.
Sea Shepherd Capt. Paul Watson, who said the Ady Gil's damage is irreparable, has boasted that in five previous campaigns against the whalers there have been no serious injuries.
In a story posted on the Perth Now website, Watson claimed the Japanese refused to respond to mayday calls and fled the scene. The Australian government reportedly has launched an investigation.
Meanwhile, somewhere in the Animal Planet executive suites, producers of "Whale Wars" are smiling because they know this will make for a compelling segment when its series about Sea Shepherd and these seasonal confrontations airs this summer.-- Pete Thomas
Photo of the damaged Ady Gil courtesy of Sea Shepherd