Whaling Ship Attacked With Acid

The latest in the ongoing battle between radical animal rights defense organization Sea Shepherd and the Japanese whaling fleet, from CNN:

Four crew members on board a Japanese whaling ship in Antarctic waters were injured Monday when an anti-whaling group threw butyric acid on board, a top Japanese official said.

Japanese Vice Foreign Minister Itsunori Onodera announced the incident at an international seminar for African and Asian delegates to the International Whaling Commission.

Onodera said someone on the activist boat, the Steve Irwin, threw bags of butyric acid aboard the Japanese vessel the Nisshin Maru.

Onodera did not elaborate on the extent of the injuries, simply telling the audience that the crew complained of injuries after the bags of acid hit the ship.

Sea Shepherd responded to the Japanese reports by claiming that they were just throwing harmless rotten butter at the ship. Stuff.co.nz has an article entirely from the Sea Shepherd point of view:

“The crew deployed over two dozen bottles of rotten butter, sending a stench throughout the whale-killing ship that will remain for days,” the group said.

They said they also threw packets of an undisclosed “slippery chemical” on to the deck of the Nisshin Maru. This will make it very difficult to cut up whales.

The substance becomes even more slippery with water so it will be difficult to wash it off the decks.

“I guess we can call this non-violent chemical warfare,” said Captain Paul Watson in the statement.

“We only use organic, non-toxic materials designed to harass and obstruct illegal whaling operations.”

So, is butyric acid harmful? A quick Google search found this information:

Appearance: colourless liquid with the extremely unpleasant smell of rancid butter

Stability
: Flammable. Incompatible with strong oxidizing agents, aluminium and most other common metals, alkalies, reducing agents.

Toxicology: Harmful if swallowed or inhaled. Corrosive. Extremely unpleasant smell may cause nausea. Liquid may burn skin and eyes. Readily absorbed through the skin. Severe skin, eye and respiratory irritant.

Based on that information, it is unlikely that the acid could have seriously injured any Japanese crew members, but one couldn’t exactly say it was harmless.

Update: Here’s a video showing some of the Sea Shepherd members throwing acid bombs.

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