After a day of intense clashes with the Sea Shepherd, the Japanese whaling fleet has suspended operations – with many predicting that their hunt in the Southern Ocean may be over for the season.
To say the last 24 hours have been messy would be an understatement. As you can see in photos like the one below, the combination of the Sea Shepherd’s four protest vessels, plus the Japanese fleet, one oil tanker, and dangerous ice conditions made for some very intense moments.
“I don’t think we have ever had a more eventful few hours in the nine years we have been opposing the whaling in the Southern Ocean Whale Sanctuary and certainly there has never been a day when all of our ships were rammed one after another,” writes Paul Watson on Facebook. “It is also the first time we have ever been rammed by the Nissin Maru, and to top it all off, the Japanese factory ship four times rammed and damaged their own supply tanker, the Sun Laurel.”
Despite the hostilities, Japan’s Institute of Cetacean Research said their reason for suspending the hunt has more to do with the difficulty in refueling; something the Sea Shepherd can certainly take credit for. Watson said the fleet currently appears to be “in disarray,” with the oil tanker “acting like they have had enough and may be heading home.”
In an interview with ABC News, he made a strong prediction that victory for the organization may yet again be within sight. “The season is over in 18 days,” he said. “They couldn’t go up north and refuel again. It’s all over and done with I think for this year.”