The environmental group Sea Shepherd employed flares and a smoke bomb but failed to penetrate the defenses of a Japanese harpoon ship, its operator, the Institute of Cetacean Research, told The Age of Melbourne Monday.
Sea Shepherd said it was obliged to defend its interceptor vessel Gojira and a helicopter from threatening moves by the whalers.
Gillard said the Southern Ocean was remote and dangerous and ''everybody has to act responsibly. Any sense that somehow you can act irresponsibly and somehow someone miraculously turns up to save you -- that is not the way the world works.''
The two sides have been dogging each other for 11 days, since the Sea Shepherd vessels Steve Irwin, Bob Barker and Gojira set upon the whaling fleet southeast of New Zealand. Two harpoon ships followed the Irwin and the Barker while the activists' target, the factory ship Nisshin Maru, steamed south of Tasmania.
The maneuvers have spared whales from being killed, said Sea Shepherd leader Paul Watson.