Straight into battle: High-tech anti-whaling vessel clashes with Japanese
fleet in freezing Southern Ocean
Activists fire stink bombs made from rotten butter and aim ropes at
whaling ships' propellers and rudder
Clash: High-tech Sea Shepherd vessel Gojira chases down Japanese whaling ship Yushin Maru 2 in the Southern Ocean
Protest: The vessels run side by side as Sea Shepherd activists attempt to disrupt the annual Japanese whaling mission
Since then, the two fleets have covered more than a thousand miles as the whalers attempt to shake off their pursuers.
Confrontations have become increasingly hostile, with activists firing stink bombs made from rotten butter on to Japanese ships as well as trying to get ropes wrapped around the propellers and rudders.
Japanese ships have responded with water cannons, acoustic weapons and even stun grenades.
Sea Shepherd has managed to severely disrupt the annual whale hunt, where the Japanese fleet attempts to capture and kill more than 1,000 whales.
Mission: An activist prepares to fire a stink bomb made from rotten butter at one of the Japanese ships
State-of-the-art: Gojira - which means Godzilla in Japanese - cost �2.57million and can reach 24 knots
Retaliation: The crew on the Yushin Maru 2 fires it water cannon as the Sea Shepherd vessels close in
During both clashes, which took place on the International Date Line, harpoon vessels the Yushin Maru 2 and Yushin Maru 3 have been forced to break off whaling to chase away Sea Shepherd vessels the Steve Irwin and Bob Barker, limiting their ability to capture the animals.
The Gojira, which is far faster than any of the Japanese vessels, has been attempting to find the factory ship to stop the operation altogether.
Paul Watson, captain of the Steve Irwin, said: 'What we have down here in the Southern Ocean are seven ships, four on their side and three on ours, engaged in a cat and mouse pursuit over thousands of miles of remote and dangerous seas.
'We chase them. They chase us, but the important thing is that we are all running, wasting away the miles, and buying time for the whales.
'Every day they don't kill whales is a victory. We can sustain this
running confrontation until the end of March, and the end of the whaling
season if need be.'
Freezing: In the first clash between the two fleets, Sea Shepherd vessels chased the whalers through ice-filled waters
Opposition: Activists have fired stink bombs at Japanese ships and thrown ropes at the propellers and rudder to stop the whaling taking place
Condemnation: Every year, Japanese whalers attempt to capture and kill more than 1,000 whales on the basis of 'research'
Locky MacLean, captain of the new Gojira, described the clash as
'Deadly because of the ice and the hostility of the whalers and beautiful
because of the ice and that these three ships are not killing whales while
clashing with us.'
Fast attack: The Gojira replaces the Ady Gil, which was damaged in similar clashes last year
Protest: Activists hold ropes as they approach one of the Japanese ships to throw them at the propellers
Damage: The Ady Gil lost around 10ft of its bow after a collision with the Shonan Maru last year
See video of Gojira arriving in Australia for refitting work