Anti-Whaling Activists, Japanese Whalers At Odds Over Missing Sailor

02/07/2009 05:12 am ET | Updated May 25, 2011

Sea Shepherd, the Greenpeace splinter group that sails around Antarctic waters harassing a Japanese whaling fleet in hopes of reducing its whaling activity, is now defending itself against claims of interfering with a search for a man overboard:

Japanese whalers accused hardline anti-whaling activists on Wednesday of disrupting a search for a missing sailor believed to have drowned after toppling overboard in stormy and frigid seas close to Antarctica.

Sea Shepherd founder Paul Watson told Reuters by satellite phone that he only offered to help with the search and had contacted search and rescue authorities in New Zealand to volunteer use of his ship's on-board helicopter.

Sea Shepherd are the subject of a television show on Animal Planet called "Whale Wars." The second season, if and when it airs, will likely include actress Daryl Hannah, who was a member of the 45-person crew that embarked in December.

The crew believes that Japan's whaling activities are illegal.

Japan officially stopped whaling under a 1986 global moratorium, but continues to cull hundreds of whales for research. Much of the meat ends up on dinner tables.

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