110-day ocean hunt ends with Sea Shepherd rescuing alleged poachers

Story highlights

  • Sea Shepherd rescues the crew of an alleged poaching ship it had chased for 110 days
  • The conservationist group had pursued the vessel since it was found illegally fishing off Antarctica, it says
  • Sea Shepherd captain tells CNN he believes the ship was deliberately sunk to destroy evidence

(CNN)A 110-day cat-and-mouse chase spanning from Antarctic waters to the coast of west Africa had an unlikely end when the crew of an alleged poaching vessel were rescued by conservationists pursuing them.

Environmentalist group Sea Shepherd had been tailing the Thunder -- subject of an Interpol "purple notice" for suspected fraud and fisheries-related crimes -- since its ship the Bob Barker encountered it in the Southern Ocean several months ago.
    The pursuit ended early Monday in the Gulf of Guinea, off the coast of west Africa, when the Bob Barker received a distress call from the Thunder.
      "We were literally a few hundred meters away; they said the ship was sinking and they were abandoning the Thunder," said Sea Shepherd spokesman Adam Burling.
      "We invited the crew -- 40 of them -- on board, had a medical officer check them over, provided them with food and water."

      Deliberately sunk?

      Bob Barker Captain Peter Hammarstedt said the crew rescued from the ship had been handed over to the Sao Tome coastguard early Tuesday.
      He said he hoped the authorities would work with Interpol to prosecute those operating the vessel.
      "We obviously want to see the cap