Sea Shepherd takes on Japanese whaling
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Sea Shepherd takes on Japanese whaling

The newest season of Whale Wars is underway and it already looks to be quite the volatile one.

The Sea Shepherd crew has embarked on their 6th Whale Defense Campaign, this time through southern arctic waters. The campaign—appropriately named “Operation Waltzing Matilda”—launched from Australia on December 7.  The ship, named Steve Irwin after the late “Crocodile Hunter”, even had a few surprise visitors come to see it disembark: Terri, Bindi and Bob Irwin.

Picking up a trail from one of the Japanese ships, the Sea Shepherd crew began their hunt. Ady Gil (formerly known as Earthrace)—their New Zealand-based allies—would be sailing from Tasmania and joining them days later. On December 14, the battle officially began with the blasting of water cannons between the Steve Irwin and Japan’s Shonan Maru #2.

Their dealing with the Shonan Maru #2 does not end there. The Shonan Maru #2 is not a Japanese whaling ship but rather a security ship to ensure the whalers do not have to deal with much interference from the Sea Shepherd crew. In an effort to keep the Steve Irwin from pursuing the whaling vessel, Shonan Maru #2 was following and harassing them for nearly 10 days (at least), making a few big mistakes on their part.

During the chase, Captain Paul Watson of the Sea Shepherd crew led his ship into French Antarctic territorial waters in an attempt to lose the Japanese security ship. Watson was granted permission by the French Base at Dumont D’urville to enter the territory. The Japanese vessel, however, pursued Steve Irwin through the French territorial waters without permission. In other words, Japan never bothered to contact the French for permission to enter their territory and as such, chased the Sea Shepherd crew illegally.