Campbell River whale watching guide fined $10K for getting to close to endangered orcas

Campbell River whale watching guide fined $10K for getting to close to endangered orcas
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A Campbell River whale watching guide has been fined $10,000 for knowingly approaching and getting too close to an endangered pod of killer whales.

Nicklaus Templeman, the owner and operator of Campbell River Whale and Bear Excursions, has been found guilty of violations after his boat was observed illegally approaching a killer whale within 35 metres near Willow Point.

The incident occurred on May 27, 2019 when two other whale watching guides witnessed Templeman approach the whales while also acknowledging over the radio that he was aware of the presence of the pod.

Despite announcing his awareness of the killer whales, he continued to approach the pod and positioned his vessel in a way to ensure that the whales would have to pass him in close proximity, says Fisheries and Oceans Canada.

“The Department has a mandate to protect and conserve marine resources and to prosecute offenders under the Fisheries and Species At Risk Acts,” reads a statement from Fisheries and Oceans Canada. “It ensures and promotes compliance with these Acts and other laws and regulations through a combination of land, air, and sea patrols, as well as education and awareness activities.”

According to Fisheries and Oceans Canada, the illegal activity was reported to DFO’s Observe, Record, Reporting line and a conservation officer from Campbell River was deployed to assess the situation.

There were six to seven commercial whale watching vessels in the area of the incident who were able to provide photos, video evidence and witness statements of Templeman’s illegal approach.

Fisheries and Oceans Canada notes that Bigg’s killer whales — the whales disturbed in the incident — are “long-lived upper trophic level predators that are considered to be at risk due to small population size, very low reproductive rate (one calf approximately every five years).”

Bigg’s killer whales are at risk of habitat degradation through acoustic disturbance from underwater noise because they rely on stealth and passive listening to detect prey.


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