Somewhere in Antarctic waters, Japanese whalers are cheering their good fortune as Mother Nature has knocked one of the enemy's three ships out of its fight against the killing of whales.
The Brigitte Bardot, a scout boat for the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society, was struck by a rogue wave in heavy seas as it pursued the whaling factory ship, Nisshin Maru.
According to Sea Shepherd, the vessel suffered a cracked hull and damaged pontoon. It will be escorted to Fremantle, Australia, by Capt. Paul Watson aboard the Steve Irwin. There were no injuries to any of the 10 Brigitte Bardot crew members.
This temporarily leaves only one Sea Shepherd boat, the Bob Barker, to attempt to stay with the whaling fleet as the fleet bounds toward the hunting grounds.
In the accompanying Sky News video report, Watson said the Steve Irwin will return to the Antarctic after the escort mission and rejoin a campaign the group calls "Operation Divine Wind."
"It's not going to stop our attempt, but it is a setback because it takes out one of our boats," Watson told the Associated Press.
Japan annually targets more than 900 whales in what it refers to as scientific missions, thus skirting a long-standing international moratorium on commercial whaling. The wording in the moratorium allows for lethal research.
This is Sea Shepherd's eighth campaign against the effort. Last season the whalers were forced to quit early, far short of their quota, because of Sea Shepherd's harassment efforts. This season one of the Japanese harpoon boats is carrying members of the Japan Coastguard.
These hunts are expensive and Japan has been criticized not only for continuing to hunt whales, but for funding the extra security with money earmarked for relief in the aftermath of the devastating earthquake and tsunamis last March.