The more I learn about this, the more I fear we are literally “loving the whales to death.”
Most people know it is illegal to harass marine mammals, but I would guess that readers may not know the simple pursuit of our local whales violates federal law. Both the Endangered Species Act and the Marine Mammal Protection Act specifically state that pursuit is illegal.
This makes sense. Can you imagine an endangered wolf population, being chased all day every day by tourists on all-terrain vehicles? The situation with our orca is not much different.
I agree. It’s not much different. I saw some orca while out on my little boat last summer. How did I find them? Um, it was incredibly easy, because every whale-tour boat in sight was racing to the scene, and you couldn’t mistake the two lines of slow-moving boats, bracketing the whales between them.
My guests, visitors from Europe, were thrilled. So was I. But I was also a little bit sickened. These creatures have to put up with this all day long, every single day?!?
That’s not OK. An occasional, incidental sighting by one or two vessels is one thing, but the wholesale commercial pursuit of the orca is incredibly disruptive for them. Even, perhaps, “harassment” in a legal sense.
And it’s really a shame because a LOT of the customers aboard those tour boats probably consider themselves environmentalists! If only they understood the situation better, perhaps they would have chosen to spend their money elsewhere.