Sea Shepherd clashes with Japanese whalers

Japanese whaling ship Yushin Maru (L) almost collides with the Sea Shepherd vessel, the 'Steve...

Japanese whaling ship Yushin Maru (L) almost collides with the Sea Shepherd vessel, the 'Steve Irwin' (foreground) in the Southern Ocean, February 2, 2014, in this handout image taken by the Sea Shepherd Australia Antarctic Whale Defense Campaign. REUTERS/Tim Watters/Sea Shepherd Australia/Handout via Reuters

QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 9:59 AM ET

The Sea Shepherd conservation group, founded by Canadian Paul Watson, says it was ambushed overnight by Japanese whalers in the waters around Australia.

During a confrontation lasting about six hours, two Japanese harpoon ships attacked the Sea Shepherd's Bob Barker a total of 33 times at close range, dragging steel cables across the ship's bow in an attempt to disable its propellers and rudders, the organization said in a news release. The group is trying to block whaling ships.

Meanwhile the Institute of Cetacean Research says the Sea Shepherd did the attacking, calling the group's actions "sabotage." Two rigid inflatable boats (RIBs) sent from the Bob Barker each deployed more than a dozen wire-entwined ropes fitted with heavy metal weights toward the bows of the Japanese ships, which the ICR says are research vessels. The ropes became entangled in the propellers and caused damage.

An American court issued an injunction in 2012 against Sea Shepherd and Watson, who has since resigned as president of the organization to comply.


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