Naturalist photographs boat that got too close to whale
May 28, 2009 · Updated 3:44 PM
A naturalist with Prince of Whales reported taking these photos of a Bayliner that got too close to an orca May 24, between 1:15-2 p.m., in Haro Strait slightly north of Lime Kiln Lighthouse.
"I was on the Ocean Magic, more than 100 metres away from the animals. It took Capt. Tyler to sound the horn several times to get this guy to slow down and stop," naturalist Marie O'Shaughnessy wrote to Orca Network. "I just couldn't believe my eyes with what was going on. He almost ran over an orca. Ruffles and Granny were close by."
O'Shaughnessy said another pleasure craft in the area was "doing much the same traveling north, but he stopped well in advance of the orca."
Capt. Jim Maya of Westside Charters said he witnessed the boat's behavior, and called it "one of the most appalling examples of harassment I've ever seen. And he kept it up long after seeing the orcas. He kept motoring beside and behind them, often within 20 yards, while pointing at them. He kept it up from Andrews Bay to the Limekiln Light. Many of the whale watch captains would have intervened, but we are restricted from going into this area while orca are present."
The photos were e-mailed to numerous recipients, and Maya called on the boating community to "help the sheriff" find the boater.
The Southern resident killer whales are endangered and are protected by federal, state and county law. State and local law requires boaters to stay at least 100 yards away from marine mammals. The penalty is a fine of at least $500.
Sheriff Bill Cumming said the boat is registered in Washington state. He said his department is working to identify the person operating the boat.