A boat belonging to the anti-whaling activist group Sea Shepherd was damaged by a rogue wave in the Southern Ocean while chasing the Japanese whaling fleet about 1,500 miles south of Fremantle, Australia.
The boat, called Brigitte Bardot, was chasing the Japanese factory ship Nisshin Maru in six-meter waves. A wave hit and badly damaged one of its pontoons. The crack is enlarging, but a Sea Shepherd representative said he hoped it would stay afloat until a rescue ship will arrive.
"Right now the safety of my crew on the Brigitte Bardot is our priority and we intend to reach the crew and then do what we can to save our ship," said Sea Shepherd founder Captain Paul Watson.
It could take up to 20 hours to get to the damaged boat, he said.
Japan has been widely criticized for continuing to hunt whales despite the fact that commercial whaling has been banned for 25 years. Japan hunts about 1,000 whales every year during a program that it calls a scientific research, but which critics say it is actually disguised commercial whaling.
Last year, the Japanese fleet cut short its hunting season, due to confrontations with Sea Shepherd.