SYDNEY — Three crew members of a Japanese whaling vessel suffered face and eye injuries from acid fired by anti-whaling protesters during their latest clash in the Antarctic Ocean, their Japanese employers said today.
The Sea Shepherd protesters said they lobbed butyric acid, produced from stinking rancid butter, which they often aim at the whalers to try to disrupt the annual Japanese hunt. The activists maintain that butyric acid is nontoxic.
The injuries sustained Thursday were the first to Japanese whalers this year during confrontations with Sea Shepherd.
Glenn Inwood, spokesman for Japan’s Institute of Cetacean Research, said the injuries were not serious, but he cautioned that butyric acid can cause temporary blindness.
The injuries occurred during a confrontation of several hours between two Sea Shepherd boats — the Steve Irwin and the Bob Barker — and four Japanese vessels.