The environmental group Sea Shepherd says crew on Japanese whaler Yushin Maru 2 dropped grappling hooks on small pursuit boats carrying crew from the Sea Shepherd's Steve Irwin.
Two Steve Irwin crew were struck in the shoulder with iron grappling hooks and one crew member was struck twice in the face with a long bamboo pole.
The incident occurred early Wednesday about 300 miles north of Antarctica's Mawson Peninsula.
"Our small boats were attempting to slow down the Japanese harpoon vessel Yushin Maru No. 2, which is aggressively tailing the Steve Irwin," Capt. Paul Watson said in a statement on the Sea Shepherd's Web site.
Crew member Brian Race, 25, of New York, was jabbed twice in the face with a bamboo pole, causing lacerations above his right eye and on his nose. Russell Bergh, 35, of South Africa, a cameraman for Animal Planet, and photographer Guillaume Collet, 27, of France, both suffered deep bruising when they were struck on the arm and shoulder with an iron grappling hook.
Sea Shepherd said two of the three Japanese whaling ships have been tailing the Steve Irwin and pursuit vessels, effectively knocking out the two whaling ships' ability to hunt whales.