Risky Showdown Looms as Eco-Ships Near Whalers

High noon on high seas as rival vessels battle to save mammoth creatures
By Jane Yager,  Newser Staff
Posted Jan 13, 2008 6:00 AM CST
In this photo released by Greenpeace, Greenpeace Japan campaigner Sakyo Noda, center, contacts a Japanese whaling fleet via radio from the Greenpeace ship Esperanza after the first sighting of the Japanese...   (Associated Press)
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(Newser) – Fears of a deadly battle increased yesterday as a Greenpeace ship began to close in on a Japanese whaling fleet intending to kill 1,000 whales. Also steaming through the Southern Ocean off Antarctica was a far more militant "eco ship," planning to ram the whaling vessels. "We are not down here to protest—we're here to stop them," ominously warned a spokesman for Sea Shepherd International.

Greenpeace officials have disavowed violence and say they refuse to "put whalers' lives at risk." Members of the organization's ship the Esperanza plan to harry the whalers and interfere with attempts to harpoon the minke and fin whales the Japanese are claiming to hunt for scientific research. Greenpeace crew members have refused to share the coordinates of the whaling ships with the militants.