Video of boaters touching a whale is spreading controversy

Video of boaters touching a whale is spreading controversy

SANTA BARBARA, Calif. - A Facebook video taken on a whale watching tour is getting some attention.

The video posted by Anchor Charter Boats out of Fort Bragg, California seems innocent.

Customers on a whale-watching cruise get playful as a whale swims right up to the boat and they even touch it.

Captain for the Condor Express out of Santa Barbara, David Beezer says this can be extremely dangerous.

A sweep of the tail or roll of the whale could knock you off your board or the kayak,” said Beezer. “The whale certainly doesn’t mean any harm and you don’t mean the whale any harm but still accidents happen.”

It could also be illegal.

According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association and the Marine Mammal Protection Act, harassment can cost a boating company up to $25,000 dollars in fines and passengers up to $10,000 dollars, along with a year in jail.

“Harassment is termed as anything that changes behavior, so you don’t want to get in front of the whale, you don’t want to disturb it you don’t want to approach it from head on you don’t want to reach out and try to touch it, technically that can be harassment,” said Beezer.

The Owner of Anchor Charter Boats, Richard Thornton took the video. He says the whale came right up to his boat.

“We were in neutral and the whale came up to us and basically played with us for an hour and a half, rubbing on the boat and sticking its head right up to the rails where the people were,” said Thornton. “They were looking and spouting and the way it was rubbing on the boat, had we tried to move the boat it would of definitely harmed the whale.”

NOAA says they are aware of the video but did not have further comment.

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