Video shows two Tacoma boaters mistakenly approach a humpback whale

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Video sent to KING 5 shows two boaters heading straight for a humpback whale off Tacoma when the mammal slaps its tail on the water.

TACOMA, Wash. — A jet ski driver and passenger are under scrutiny after they were filmed heading for a whale in Puget Sound near Tacoma.

The woman who anonymously submitted the clip to KING 5 said the video was shot Sunday night off Dune Park in Tacoma.

The video shows that when the couple approached the animal, a slap came from the tail of a humpback whale. According to behavior conservation scientist Kersti Muul, this is aggressive behavior.

“It’s bad for the whale, but it’s also very dangerous for it. They could have been killed,” Muul said. “My gut reaction was a little horrified but not surprised. I see this all the time. These violations are happening more and more in smaller bays and coves, especially in the south.”

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The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, the federal agency charged with protecting mammals, has called on boaters to leave a football pitch between a ship and a whale and double that for killer whales found in Washington state. The state’s southern killer whale population is protected by the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW)

“This appears to be, by all indications, a clear violation of MMPA rules regarding within 100 yards of a humpback whale,” said WDFW Captain Alan Myers. “A little video clip like that can provide a whole lot of information that can help us or our federal partners make the case. »

WDFW says boaters could face fines of up to thousands of dollars, or even jail time, for reckless behavior.

“We would advise them to come forward so we can talk to them,” Myers added.

Meanwhile, whale sightings have been increasing in recent years, which is a sign that some populations, including the humpback whale, are on the rise. While this is good news, videos like this remind us of the role we play in their success.

For more information on how to report violations, visit the Be Whale-Wise website.

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