ANTI-whaling group Sea Shepherd's two protest ships were rammed by a Japanese ship in the Southern Ocean yesterday.
One of the protest ships, the Bob Barker, was the worst hit and took on water before its crew managed to plug the hole in its hull.
In a post on his Facebook page, Sea Shepherd Conservation Society's Captain Paul Watson said the Nisshin Maru rammed the Steve Irwin and Bob Barker "but both vessels continue to hold their positions".
Footage released by the anti-whaling group, which was banned from entering Fiji waters last year, showed the fuel ship Sun Laurel was also hit.
Uto ni Yalo senior crew Angelo Smith — one of two Fijians from the canoe that joined the Sea Shepherd on its Brigitte Bardot last year — said the plight of the ocean's animals facing extinction was sad.
"We all have to do something otherwise such incidents will keep happening and people will one day die on the seas protecting these creatures."
According to AAP, the Japanese Institute of Cetacean Research wouldn't comment on the cat-and-mouse confrontation at sea.
It only said the Bob Barker had tried to sabotage the Nisshin Maru and Yushin Maru No.2 as they tried to transfer a whale between the two ships.
Earlier this month, the US Supreme Court upheld an injunction ordering Sea Shepherd to keep away from Japanese whaling ships.