Biologist Guilty of Feeding Wild Orcas

Violated Marine Mammal Protection Act


Marine biologist Nancy Black was sentenced Monday after pleading guilty to one misdemeanor violation of the Marine Mammal Protection Act—feeding orca whales in the wild—the AP reports.

Black, whose work has appeared on PBS, National Geographic, and Animal Planet, initially faced a maximum fine of $100,000 and one year in prison, but was sentenced to three years of probation, $12,500 in fines, and 300 hours of community service.

In her plea agreement she admitted to offering chunks of gray whale blubber to the orcas in order to draw them closer to the boat for filming. Feeding wild orcas has the potential to disrupt the behavioral patterns of the whales and erodes their wariness of humans, U.S. District Judge Edward Davila said.

The judge also ordered Black to remain 100 yards away from the whales—a punishment that might interfere with the researcher’s popular whale-watching business.