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Sea Shepherd: Whalers attack with grappling hooks

By Peter Shadbolt, CNN
updated 6:18 AM EST, Wed January 18, 2012
Sea Shepherd crew members say Japanese whalers threw iron grappling hooks at their boats.
Sea Shepherd crew members say Japanese whalers threw iron grappling hooks at their boats.
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Conservation group claims crew were attacked with grappling hooks
  • Two crew were struck with iron hooks, the group says
  • It claims a third crew member was struck twice in the face with a bamboo pole
  • Sea Shepherd's vessel Steve Irwin is attempting to disrupt Japanese whaling ships

(CNN) -- Three anti-whaling activists were injured in a clash with Japanese whalers off the coast of Antarctica on Wednesday when the Japanese crew used grappling hooks against pursuit boats, the conservation group Sea Shepherd said in statement.

The environmental group claims two of its crew from the anti-whaling ship Steve Irwin were struck in the shoulder with iron grappling hooks and one crewmember was struck twice in the face with a long bamboo pole.

The group said the incident occurred at about 3am (Australian Eastern Daylight Time) in waters 300 miles north of Mawson Peninsula in Antarctica.

Sea Shepherd claims the Japanese whaler Yushin Maru No. 2 continued to tail the Steve Irwin which is in Antarctic waters attempting to disrupt the Japanese whalers.

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"Our small boats were attempting to slow down the Japanese harpoon vessel Yushin Maru No. 2, which is aggressively tailing the Steve Irwin," said Captain Paul Watson.

The group said that American crewmember Brian Race, 25, from New York, was jabbed twice in the face with a bamboo pole receiving lacerations above his right eye and on his nose.

South African cameraman Russell Bergh, 35, and French photographer Guillaume Collet, 27, received deep bruising when the hooks struck them.

Sea Shepherd said two of the three harpoon ships had been assigned to tail the Steve Irwin and its pursuit boats, effectively putting two of the three killing boats out of action.

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