Position at March 1st at 1858 Hours AEDT  59°59’ South and 60° 32’ East

Commentary By Paul Watson - Observer

The SSS Steve Irwin escorts the whaling fleetThe SSS Steve Irwin escorts the whaling fleet
photo: Sea Shepherd Australia/Eliza Muirhead
The Japanese whaling fleet has left the Southern Ocean Whale Sanctuary and is heading north.

The ships crossing north of sixty degrees are the Nisshin Maru, Yushin Maru, Yushin Maru No. 2,  Shonan Maru No. 2, the Steve Irwin and the Bob Barker.

The entire Japanese whaling fleet is now north of sixty degrees and out of the Southern Ocean Whale Sanctuary.

The Panamanian-flagged Korean-owned fuel tanker Sun Laurel, traveling with the Yushin Maru No. 3 and flanked by the Sea Shepherd ship Sam Simon, is 120 nautical miles north of the Nisshin Maru and is continuing northward at eleven knots.

Since the Japanese whaling fleet arrived in the Southern Ocean at 2330 Hours on  January 28th, 2013, the Sea Shepherd ships have chased the fleet for over 6,240 miles westward, from the Ross Sea to Pryzd Bay, from 164° 02’ West to 60°20’ East.

The campaign saw two confrontations to prevent the killing of whales and three confrontations to prevent the illegal fueling of the Nisshin Maru from the Sun Laurel.

During the campaign the Sea Shepherd crews did not throw any projectiles or deploy any propeller-fouling devices. The Japanese whalers threw concussion grenades and hit the Sea Shepherd crewmembers with water cannons. All three Sea Shepherd ships were damaged after being struck multiple times by the 8,000 ton Nisshin Maru.

Is whaling over for the season?  We are not positive but we are 80% sure that it may be over.

Sea Shepherd will not intervene against any legal transfer of fuel between the Nisshin Maru and the Sun Laurel above sixty degrees South but the Sun Laurel is over 120 miles to the North and still moving northward at 11 knots. It would take at least 48 hours to rendezvous with the Sun Laurel to refuel and another four days to return to the whaling area. This would leave about a week to kill whales and with the weather quickly deteriorating it would hardly be worth the effort.

How many whales have been killed? Sea Shepherd can only confirm the death of two Minke whales. Some whales could have been taken on the run westward; the Nisshin Maru and the Yushin Maru No. 2 had two days to whale unobstructed until the Sea Shepherd ships caught up with them.

We can confirm that the Yushin Maru and the Yushin Maru No. 3 did not kill any whales this season. These two vessels were under observation at all times.

My conservative estimate of the number of whales killed this year is no more than 75. It could be much lower but certainly not higher. Last year I predicted the whalers would take 30% of their kill quota. The actual kill was 26%.

Although Operation Zero Tolerance did not realize zero kills, this campaign will see the lowest take by the Japanese whaling fleet in the entire history of their Antarctic whale hunts.

The Sea Shepherd Conservation Society campaign led by Sea Shepherd Australia has been enormously successful and the crew of all three Sea Shepherd ships are satisfied with what has been achieved this season.

All three Sea Shepherd ships will continue to follow the whaling fleet north to ensure that they do not return to kill whales.

Bob Barker and Steve Irwin Escorting the Nisshin Maru Out of the Southern Ocean Whale SanctuaryBob Barker and Steve Irwin Escorting the Nisshin Maru Out of the Southern Ocean Whale Sanctuary
photo: Sea Shepherd Australia/Tim Watters