Dramatic videotape released Monday, showing an anti-whaling boat being sandwiched tightly between two much larger ships, underscores the tense relationship that exists between Japanese whalers and the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society.
Sea Shepherd released the video Monday. It shows the Bob Barker being pressed between the Nisshin Maru and a Korean refueling tanker. It also shows what's said to be a flash-bang grenade explosion near the stern of the refueling ship, the Sun Laurel (image posted above, video posted below).
The Bob Barker was being used in an attempt to thwart the Nishin Maru's refueling effort in the remote Southern Ocean.
"The Bob Barker has sustained major damage from being sandwiched between the Nisshin Maru and the fuel tanker Sun Laurel," Sea Shepherd stated on its Facebook page. "The engine room is now visible through a crack in the floor of the galley. The Sam Simon has massive scratches and dings along their hull, and a smashed satellite dome."
The crew was said to be OK. But the incident, one of the most harrowing in the years-long history of confrontations between the two groups, reveals the serious nature of this game of chess that plays out each season in Antarctic waters.
Sea Shepherd also stated that another of its vessels, the Sam Simon, was
dinged during another collision with the Nisshin Maru, and that there
was a third collision that involved the Nisshin Maru.
Sea Shepherd opposes Japan's whaling effort with various harassment techniques (its boats were trailing propeller-fouling ropes at the time this incident occurred), and both sides claim that what each other is doing is illegal.
Sea Shepherd has a huge fan base, but many also vehemently oppose the group and the way it operates. This latest incident, or set of incidents, has inspired typical reactions. Sea Shepherd is either commended or carrying its mission dangerously too far.This is the second set of collision incidents that occurred during the whalers' attempts to refuel. After last week's incidents, the government of Japan and the Institute of Cetacean Research, which manages the annual minke whale hunts, announced that they had temporarily suspended whaling operations.
The ICR blamed Sea Shepherd for last week's collisions.
Japan annually targets nearly 1,000 whales, claiming the missions are scientific and using a lethal research loophole in the wording of an international moratorium on commercial whaling to skirt the ban.
Few legitimate scientists, if any, believe that killing 900-plus minke whales is necessary or beneficial to the whales from a scientific standpoint. The whale meat, not surprisingly, is sold commercially in Japan.