A whale-watching guide on Vancouver Island has been fined thousands of dollars for getting too close to a pod of orcas.
Fisheries and Oceans Canada (DFO) says the incident happened on May 27, 2019, near Willow Point, just south of Campbell River, British Columbia.
DFO says Nickalaus Templeman, a guide working for Campbell River Whale and Bear Excursions, was seen by two other whale-watching guides illegally approaching a pod of killer whales in the area.
Under the federal Fisheries Act, whale-watching vessels are prohibited from coming within 200 meters of an orca in British Columbia waters. DFO says Templeman was seen moving within 35 yards of the killer whales and circling them.
“Mr. Templeman acknowledged by VHF radio that he was aware of the whale’s presence,” DFO said in a statement Thursday.
“However, he continued to travel in their direction and positioned his vessel to ensure that the whales should pass him nearby.”
The incident was reported by other whale-watching guides and a conservation officer who was called to the scene to assess the situation, according to DFO.
“There were six to seven commercial whale-watching vessels in the area of the incident who subsequently provided witness statements, as did several of the tourists who were on board,” DFO said.
“These witnesses also provided significant amounts of photos and video statements.”
In September, Tempeleman was found guilty of the offenses in provincial court and was fined $10,000 for the incident. He was fined $5,000 under the Species at Risk Act and another $5,000 under the federal Fisheries Act.
The money collected from the fines will go to “conservation and protection of marine mammals in the waters off British Columbia”, according to DFO.