Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Calling It Quits

Last Thursday, the Japanese whalers' factory ship Nisshin Maru switched on its Automatic Identification System (AIS).
In the decade of Sea Shepherd's Antarctic Whale Defence campaigns, this is the first time the nasty Nippons have activated their AIS while still in their hunting grounds, having always kept their location secret. Its AIS shows NM has left the Southern Ocean on a N course at 10kts en route to Japan, with arrival in about three weeks.
Since NM was last seen on 02 March, Bob Barker and Steve Irwin swept across and occupied the only good weather areas that were available to the whale poachers this late in the season. And during this time, NM was accompanied by only one harpoon ship.
Last Tuesday, Yushin Maru No.2 and Yushin Maru No.3 dropped away from tailing SS, indicating they were low on fuel and unable to follow any further. BB and SI then ran northwards, to push NM out of the whale sanctuary.
This is the latest that SS has stayed in the Sthrn Ocean to intervene against the whalers, and the Japanese were obviously trying to leave their own exit time for as late as possible, hoping that SS would run low on fuel. But with massive Sthrn Ocean swells forecast as large as 10m, and further embarrassment at being located by 'the enemy' again, they had no choice but to abandon the season.
SS's Sam Simon has returned to its homeport of Williamstown, Melbourne. BB is en route to Wellington, while SI will return to Hobart - both are expected to dock around 22 March.

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