Steve Irwin to Make Quick "Pit Stop" in Melbourne

The Sea Shepherd Conservation Society vessel Steve Irwin has changed course to return to Melbourne in Victoria and will not be calling at the Port of Hobart in Tasmania.

"There simply is no diesel fuel available in all of Tasmania," said Captain Paul Watson from the Steve Irwin presently located some 400 miles south of Tasmania. "We can only purchase fuel in Melbourne and the parts that we need will reach us quicker in Melbourne than in Hobart."

The Sea Shepherd crew intend to pick up the parts, make repairs, take on fuel and water and return to sea within 48 hours.

"We have narrowed the search for the Japanese fleet to the extreme Western side of the whaling area," said Captain Watson. "We are doing our best to get there as quickly as we can because we know that every day we delay is another day that whales are dying in agony in the Whale Sanctuary."

The Steve Irwin has a crew of 41 volunteers from 10 different nations and includes 16 Australians.

The ship is expected to reach Melbourne on December 24th.