Anti-whaling boat owned by San Juan's Sea Shepherd Society takes on water near Antarctica

A Sea Shepherd Conservation Society boat's bow was sheared off early today after it was struck by a Japanese whaling ship in the frigid waters of Antarctica, the group reported.

The Associated Press reported that the Ady Gil, a wave-piercing trimaran, was taking on water and that its six crew members were safely transferred to another Sea Shepherd vessel, the newly commissioned Bob Barker. The boat is named for the American game show host who donated $5 million to buy it.

Sea Shepherd is headquartered on San Juan Island and led by Captain Paul Watson, who earlier co-founded Greenpeace. Besides the Bob Barker, Sea Shepherd's other vessel is the Steve Irwin.

Sea Shepherd is known for its intervention tactics against fishing, seal hunting and whaling; it claims to be enforcing international maritime law under the United Nations World Charter for Nature. Sea Shepherd has worked under contract with the Ecuadorian government to enforce marine park and fishing laws in the Galapagos Marine Reserve. Sea Shepherd was the subject of the Animal Planet TV series, "Whale Wars."

The collision followed by a day Sea Shepherd's announcement of game show host Barker's $5 million donation to Sea Shepherd for the vessel named in his honor. The vessel, a 1,200-ton Norwegian-built Antarctic harpoon vessel, arrived near the Japanese whaling fleet in the area of Commonwealth Bay off the Adelie Coast at 3 a.m. today.

"Thanks to a $5 million contribution from American television personality and icon Bob Barker, the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society was able to quietly purchase and refit the former Norwegian whaler in Africa," Sea Shepherd reported in a press release. "The ice strengthened fast chaser boat quietly departed from Mauritius on Dec. 18 to join up with the Sea Shepherd ships Steve Irwin and Ady Gil in the Southern Ocean."

Barker also funded the cost of a helicopter that will accompany the society’s ships. The aircraft is named The Nancy Burnet after the president of United Activists for Animal Rights, an organization Barker also supports. This new helicopter will participate in future campaigns, Sea Shepherd reported.

“I’m delighted to be able to help the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society in its mission to end the destruction of habitat and slaughter of wildlife in the world’s oceans,” Barker said in the press release. “There is lot of talk about preserving our ecosystems and species, but this is one organization that puts these words into action.”

For the first time ever, Sea Shepherd had three ships on the Japanese fleet. “We intend to bankrupt the whalers,” Captain Paul Watson said.

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