Japanese whalers have allegedly harpooned a Minke whale in Australia's Antarctic waters, drawing the ire of the well-known Sea Shepherd group of conservation activists, and igniting a stand-off between the two groups.
Sea Shepherd leader Paul Watson told the Australia Broadcasting Corporation that the whale had been killed at the Davis Research Base, causing the anti-whaling group to attempt to stop the whalers from transferring the dead animal to their ship.
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Watson claims the whalers tried to ram their boat, in what he called an effort to "test their resolve," and then says that his group began trailing the whaling vessel.
"It's sort of a stand-off. The Steve Irwin's racing to catch up with them and we're being followed by the Nisshin Mauru 3," said Watson to ABC.
The Japanese vessel has made nine attempts to transfer the whale out of the water and into their ship, and continue to be blocked by Sea Shepherd vessel the Bob Barker, AAP writes.
Earlier in the month, Australia demanded that Japanese whalers leave the southern ocean, telling whalers — apparently in pursuit of an environmental activist vessel — that they were not welcome, wrote the Guardian.
"Australia has made it clear to Japan on a number of occasions that vessels associated with its whaling programme are not welcome," said Australian environment minister Tony Burke in the Guardian.
"Our embassy in Tokyo has conveyed these sentiments directly to the Japanese government."
Burke has declined to step in in this most recent Antarctic incident, says ABC, preferring to focus on illegalizing Japanese whaling everywhere.
In January 2012, Sea Shepherd activists claimed that three crew members were injured by grappling hooks and a bamboo pole, used by the Japanese whaling ship to repel them — an act Japanese representatives claim was conducted in self defense.