The first clash of the season between the Japanese whalers and the Sea Shepherd took place yesterday — with the later getting the chance to use their new water cannon.
Captain Paul Watson wrote on his MySpace blog that the Steve Irwin and the Shonan Maru # 2 exchanged shots with their water cannons. The Japanese harpoon ship has been keeping tabs on the Irwin since it left Australian port last week. From his post,
“At 1400 Hours (Melbourne time) (August 14) the Steve Irwin went around an iceberg, did a figure eight out of view of the Shonan Maru #2 and re-emerged within a quarter of a mile of the Japanese whaler’s portside quarter catching the whalers completely by surprise. A pursuit began and the Shonan Maru #2 turned on two water cannons. The crew of the Steve Irwin immediately responded by placing their water cannon in readiness.”
“For the next two hours the harpoon boat and the Steve Irwin were engaged in a high speed pursuit with the Steve Irwin chasing the Shonan Maru #2.”
“After two hours, Captain Watson decided to break off the pursuit and resume course to the coast of Antarctica. The Japanese whalers are spending a great deal of money, first locating the Steve Irwin by air and then directing the Shonan Maru #2 to the coordinates of the Sea Shepherd vessel. By staying on the tail of the Steve Irwin, the harpoon vessel is able to keep the rest of the fleet aware of the Sea Shepherd position. Captain Paul Watson needs to lose the tail of the Shonan Maru #2 in order to locate the whaling fleet. He is counting on heavier ice conditions to assist in this effort. ‘We will use the icebergs and the ice floes to our advantage.’ Said Captain Paul Watson. ‘I’ve observed today that I am a more experienced ice navigator than the Japanese captain chasing us. We need to get him to follow us into the ice fields and let the ice work for us.’
“The Steve Irwin crew were left wet, but in good spirits after the confrontation. “It was awesome seeing them run like cowards when we turned on them,” said Third Mate Vincent Hayes.”
The Sea Shepherd’s newest addition, the Ady Gil, left from New Zealand late last week after some satellite communications gear (spotlighted here) became faulty. With its great speed, it should avoid any tails by the Japanese and potentially locate the fleet before the Irwin. Stay tuned.