There will be a lot of talking about this, Japan will most likely present an entirely different version of events, courts, judges and many lawyers will most probably be involved, possibly some international bodies as well, but for the moment the most information about what happened today is coming from Sea Shepherd and, while I wouldn’t necessarily put a few convenient slips or embellishments past them, I’ll definitely take their word over that of the Japanese whalers at all times. Not to mention that they seem to have a significant amount of evidence, so you can also see some additional pictures or, if you want, read the slightly more detailed version written by Paul Watson. And there’s also an article they linked to, which mentions some initial reactions from Australia.
If you don’t want to click any of that, the short version would be that, angered by the fact that their use of pretty much everything at their disposal short of live ammunition was failing to make the Sea Shepherd fleet back down and allow it to refuel, the Japanese factory ship, the Nisshin Maru, repeatedly rammed the Sea Shepherd vessels, as well as the tanker that was there to refuel them, the Sun Laurel.
By the end of the conflict, the Bob Barker had taken quite a beating, with a radar destroyed and many areas sustaining significant damage. At one point it was almost tipped over and taking water to the engine room, also being left completely without power for 30 minutes. The Sun Laurel apparently lost one of its lifeboats and mechanisms required to deploy the other. It is now being escorted away from the area by one of the Sea Shepherd ships, after members of its crew tossed them a message in a bottle stating that they have no desire to refuel the whalers, weren’t told where they were going or why by their captain and are unable to call home.
Probably after its captain and crew realized the extent of the damage caused and heard the Bob Barker’s distress signal, the Nisshin Maru turned and fled, and the Japanese quickly announced suspending this season’s whale hunting operations. Despite the sustained damage, two Sea Shepherd vessels are tailing it, however, in case it’ll turn around and try something else. At the same time, the Australian government claims to be trying to gather all the facts and the opposition has formally requested dispatching a Customs vessel into the area, to take control of the situation.
As a personal comment, I have to say I’m not surprised in the least by this turn of events, because the Sea Shepherd fleet truly is strong enough to get the job done this time around, but at the same time the whalers had noticed that they were shying away from potential collisions after such maneuvers had allowed them to refuel two of their vessels and transfer a killed whale, so it was clear that they were going to try it again. Thankfully, the captains of the Sea Shepherd vessels had backed down before only to maintain their ships in the best condition to put up a good fight when it mattered most, and this time they stood their ground and won the day. Now let’s hope they’ll win the war as well.