British Columbia whale-watching guide fined $10,000 for getting too close to killer whale

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A professional whale-watching guide in Campbell River has been fined $10,000 for illegally approaching a killer whale within 35 meters during a tour by a whale-watching group.

Nicklaus Templeman, owner and operator of Campbell River Whale and Bear Excursions, was convicted of offenses under the Species at Risk Act and the Federal Fisheries Act in Campbell River Provincial Court in September 2021.

According to a May 27, 2019, Fisheries and Oceans Canada (DFO) news release, Templeman was observed approaching the killer whale, which was traveling with a pod, by two other whale-watching guides near Willow Point, south of Campbell River.

Fisheries officer Geoff Thorburn said the whale suddenly pierced, prompting other vessels to stop immediately.

“It’s the proper decision to make when something like this happens,” Thorburn said, adding that Templeman revealed on the radio that he had seen the whale pod.

“He would ride and turn in front of the whales and pull over to get a vantage point for his customers, for the whale to pass right in front of him. But in doing so, he got between the whales and the shore and that’s their ground. of hunting.”

Commercial whale-watching vessels and tourists in the area at the time provided witness statements, photos and video evidence.

The Marine Mammal Regulations state that vessels cannot approach or attempt to trap marine mammals between a vessel and the shore or between a vessel and one or more other vessels.

Under DFO regulations updated in 2018, anyone approaching marine mammals must stay at least 100 meters away from most whales, dolphins and porpoises.

There is also a minimum approach distance of 200 meters for whales, dolphins and porpoises at rest or accompanied by a calf, as well as a minimum approach distance of 200 meters for killer whales in the Pacific Ocean .

“It’s for the safety of the animals. These animals hunt and the noise of the boats and boats racing around them is a distraction to them as they use their sonar and auditory abilities to stalk their prey,” said Thorburn.

The fine paid by Templeman will be used for the conservation and protection of marine mammals in the waters off British Columbia

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