It comes as no surprise that Peter Bethune, a Sea Shepherd Conservation Society captain who sneaked aboard a Japanese whaling ship to make a citizen's arrest of its captain, is now captive aboard that vessel.
Bethune boarded the Shonan Maru 2, which is operating with five other Japanese vessels in Antarctic waters, on Sunday with a bill for $3 million to replace the Ady Gil, which was destroyed after a collision with the whaling vessel early last month. Bethune, a New Zealand resident, was captain of the Ady Gil.
According to the Associated Press, Bethune will be delivered to Japan and face charges of trespassing and assault. It remains unclear how or when he will be transported as the whaling fleet expects to be at sea a few more weeks.
Japan's Institute of Cetacean Research, which sponsors the annual hunts and purports them to be of scientific purpose, claims Bethune used a knife to cut protective netting so he could board the Shonan Maru 2.
The so-called Whale War between the Sea Shepherd and the whalers has been dramatically escalated this season, with two vessel collisions and several bouts with water cannons. Sea Shepherd crewmen have also used rotten-butter bombs and high-powered laser beams to harass the whalers as they try to fill their quota of nearly 1,000 minke whales.
In fact, the Institute of Cetacean Research today issued this update: "At about past 16:00 JST today, Japan’s Antarctic whale research (JARPA II) mother ship Nisshin Maru was subject to a projectile attack by the Dutch-registered ship Steve Irwin.
"The Steve Irwin and another ship, the Bob Barker, have been pursuing and repeatedly harassing the Nisshin Maru since February 6 and 8 respectively. At about past 16:00 JST February 16 the Steve Irwin started closing in to the Nisshin Maru while activists on board used a large slingshot contrivance to fire numerous ball-shaped plastic projectiles against the Japanese vessel."
It remains unclear how many whales have been killed this season but the whalers probably will not come close to reaching their quota.
-- Pete Thomas
Photo of cut damage to protective netting aboard Shonan Maru 2 courtesy of Japan's Institute of Cetacean Research