Black smoke pours from the smokestack of the Nisshin Maru as they run their engines in full force, fleeing from the Sea Shepherd FleetBlack smoke pours from the smokestack of the Nisshin Maru as they run their engines in full force, fleeing from the Sea Shepherd Fleet Photo: Tim WattersThe Sea Shepherd Fleet has once again located the factory vessel of the Japanese whaling fleet, the Nisshin Maru, effectively suspending whale poaching operations in the Southern Ocean Whale Sanctuary. The ship was located at 2050 AEDT on the 24th of January at 70°27’ S 150°03’ W by the Sea Shepherd ship The Bob Barker.

Once again, Sea Shepherd has all vessels in the Japanese whaling fleet accounted for, with The Steve Irwin’s helicopter having obtained a visual of the Nisshin Maru along with two harpoon ships, the Yushin Maru No. 1 and No. 2. At their present course and speed, The Sea Shepherd Fleet expects to drive the Japanese whale poaching fleet out of the easternmost boundary of its self-designated whaling grounds at approximately 1300 AEDT today.

The Nisshin Maru is currently travelling on a north-easterly course away from the whaling grounds, with The Steve Irwin ahead and The Bob Barker tailing them, all ships on a parallel course. The whaler’s two remaining vessels, the Shonan Maru No. 2 and the Yushin Maru No. 3 are currently with The Bob Barker and The Steve Irwin, respectively.

Sea Shepherd Flagship, The Steve Irwin, hot on the heels of the Nisshin Maru Photo: Tim WattersSea Shepherd Flagship, The Steve Irwin, hot on the heels of the Nisshin Maru Photo: Tim WattersOn 14th of January, the Australian Environment Minister, Greg Hunt, confirmed that two days earlier, the Japanese whaling fleet was over 1,000 nautical miles away from Australia’s Search and Rescue zone, steaming away from Australian waters. From this, Sea Shepherd was able to deduce the location of the whaling fleet, using The Sam Simon and The Bob Barker to flush out the poachers.

Poor weather in the region, which has made it difficult, if not impossible, for the whalers to continue their illegal operations, had also limited closing in on the whaling fleet. However, yesterday, weather conditions in the region improved considerably, with heavy fog lifting. This gave the Sea Shepherd Fleet the opportunity to scan the region, and easily find the whalers.

Captain of The Bob Barker, Peter Hammarstedt, said, “After finding the discarded remnants of butchered whales from the Nisshin Maru strewn through the waters of the Southern Ocean Whale Sanctuary, we knew we were closing in fast on the whale poachers. We wasted no time in following the bloody trail of the remains of these once beautiful creatures to the Nisshin Maru, where we are now able to shut down their illegal whaling operations.”

Whale entrails in the Southern Ocean Whale Sanctuary discarded by the Japanese whaling fleet Photo: Simon AgerWhale entrails in the Southern Ocean Whale Sanctuary discarded by the Japanese whaling fleet Photo: Simon AgerThe Bob Barker obtained documentation of whale remains found floating in the Southern Ocean Whale Sanctuary at 0910 on the 24th of January at 71°30’ S 147°38’W. Whaling has been banned in these waters since 1994, when the Sanctuary was first established.

Sea Shepherd Australia Managing Director, Jeff Hansen, welcomed the news: "Everything that is wrong with the world is represented in the massive floating slaughterhouse, the Nisshin Maru. When we shut down whaling in the Southern Ocean Whale Sanctuary, we send ripples around the world to support and encourage all those other brave environmental activists fighting for ensuring the integrity of humanity’s life support systems and upholding the laws of ecology. The Whale’s Navy is Relentless!”

The Nisshin Maru and harpoon vessels, the Yushin Maru No.1 and No.2, run from the Sea Shepherd Fleet Photo: Tim WattersThe Nisshin Maru and harpoon vessels, the Yushin Maru No.1 and No.2, run from the Sea Shepherd Fleet Photo: Tim Watters The Bob Barker chasing the Nisshin Maru along the ice edge Photo: Tim WattersThe Bob Barker chasing the Nisshin Maru along the ice edge Photo: Tim Watters
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