Japan plans to kill up to 935 Antarctic minke whales and 10 endangered fin whales this season under its controversial JARPA II scientific whaling program in the Southern Ocean. New Zealand Environment Minister Carter says that the Japanese whaling for "scientific purposes" is "exploitation" and kills more whales than the commercial industry.
The two Sea Shepherd ships have already searched hundreds of square miles for the Japanese whaling fleet. And in three weeks, they will have to leave the area and go back to port to refuel and get supplies, making the so-far unsuccessful effort all the more frustrating.
Last week, the Greenpeace ship The Esperanza set sail from New Zealand and is also attempting to catch up to the Japanese whaling ships. It will try to disrupt their efforts by using inflatable boats to get between the harpoons and their prey.
The Esperanza will arrive in the area at the end of this week, but don't expect cooperation between Greenpeace and the Sea Shepherd Society. Greenpeace has criticized Sea Shepherd for not maintaining the "principle of peaceful protest" and says it would not give them the coordinates even if they knew them.
A similar anti-whaling effort in the Southern Ocean by Greenpeace last year ended in controversy, as both sides -- the Japanese and Greenpeace -- accused the other of deliberately ramming each others' ships.