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Sea Shepherd anti-whaling ship damaged while chasing Japanese vessel

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Michelle McCarron/Sea Shepherd Conservation Society/AP

(Read caption) The Sea Shepherd Conservation Society's scout vessel Brigitte Bardot cuts through the water, in Toulon, France, June 2,. The Brigitte Bardot was seriously damaged by a giant wave Thursday, in Antarctic Sea, a major setback in the group's ongoing and sometimes violent battle with Japan's whaling fleet.

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It’s that time of year again: whaling season. And for the past 25 years, whaling season has been accompanied by anti-whaling season.

The latest?  A boat – part of the whaling fleet’s nemesis, the Sea Shepherd marine conservation group – was chasing the Japanese whaling fleet in the Southern Ocean when a large wave hit the “Brigitte Bardot,” disabling it.  Anti-whaling activists: 0, rogue wave: 1

The ship is being towed to safety today after being stranded off the coast of Australia. Though the conservation group is down a ship, the rogue wave did succeed in putting a spotlight on Japan’s annual whaling season and the activist effort to put an end to it.

There has been a ban on commercial whaling for 25 years, but each fall, Japan's whaling fleet sails south to the Antarctic and returns the following spring with whales killed on what it says is a scientific research program that catches and kills about 1,000 whales each year. The fleet left Japan earlier this month with plans to catch 900 whales, mostly the non-endangered minke whales.

Last year, Japan ended its annual whale hunt early and the official reason was because the actions of the Sea Shepherd put the Japanese crew’s safety at risk. Many analysts took it to be one of the strongest signs yet that direct action from groups like Sea Shepherd and weak consumption of whale meat in Japan are having an impact on whaling.


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