Activists with the ocean conservationist group Sea Shepherd say their ship was attacked by Japanese whaling ships on the high seas in the Southern Ocean on Sunday, claiming the whalers deliberately collided with their ship amidst other attempts to damage the vessel.
The latest confrontation with Japanese whalers comes as Sea Shepherd continues its fight to protect endangered whales from what they call on an ongoing "slaughter of wildlife in the world's oceans." The group often uses their ships to blockade vessels they consider to be illegally poaching whales in internationally protected waters.
The International Whaling Commission considers the Southern Ocean a sanctuary for the large mammals.
"The Sea Shepherd ships Steve Irwin and Bob Barker were both unprovokedly [sic] attacked by three harpoon ships belonging to the Japanese whale poaching fleet," Captain of the Bob Barker Peter Hammarstedt told Australia's ABC.
"These harpoon ships came in heavy and hard. They hit my bow with about 300 meters of steel cable with the express intent of causing damage to my rudder and propellers," Hammarstedt continued. "Thankfully because of a lot of evasive maneuvering I was able to avoid being entangled, but on one occasion one of the harpoon ships came so close that they ended up colliding with my vessel."
The group said their boat suffered damages during the attack, but no one was injured.
The Japanese government claimed that the collision was the fault of Sea Shepherd, and the Australian government announced Sunday that it will launch an investigation into the incident.
Watch footage of the collision released by Sea Shepherd: