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.
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.