‘Stupid’ orca body-slammer gets off with fine

An Auckland man shows off by belly-flopping onto the orca
An Auckland man shows off by belly-flopping onto an orca

Last Updated on May 22, 2024 by Steve Weinman

A 50-year-old New Zealand man has escaped with a fine after belly-flopping onto a killer whale from a boat in Devonport, Auckland, cheered on and filmed by others on the boat. 

The offence under the country’s Marine Mammals Protection Act occurred in February, but once the Department of Conservation (DoC) had seen footage posted on social media it brought him to task for his action.

Because it was a first offence and the male orca and the calf accompanying it appeared to have been unhurt the DoC decided to treat the incident as an “infringement”, and imposed a fine of NZ $600 (about £290).

The maximum penalty for “harassing, disturbing, injuring or killing a marine mammal” is two years’ imprisonment or up to $250,000 in fines. New Zealand has a killer whale population of 150-200.

‘Shocking and stupid’

Despite the leniency of the fine, the DoC said that the man had shown a “shocking and stupid attitude” towards protected marine mammals, as he shouted out that he had touched the mammal before checking that he had been filmed in the act. 

“The video left us genuinely stunned,” said DoC principal investigation officer Hayden Loper. “As well as the initial attempt to dive onto the animal, the man stays in the water and then swims toward it again in a second attempt to touch it. 

“This is stupid behaviour and demonstrates a shocking disregard for the welfare of the orca. It is extremely irresponsible.

“Orca are immensely powerful animals, and this really could have ended horribly – with either the startled whale being injured, or the man responsible being harmed by the aggravated animal.

“It’s a very clear breach of the Marine Mammals Protection Act. Orca are classified as whales under conservation legislation and it is illegal to swim with whales, or disturb or harass any marine mammal.

“This is the third case in recent years in which social media content has led to a successful prosecution for DOC and we greatly appreciate the tip-offs we get from the public,” said Loper. 

Also on Divernet: Diver’s orca binge brings record fine, Orcas ‘like kids at a party’, Did orca kidnap pilot whale calf?, Orca smashes record – but at what cost?

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Anthony
Anthony
1 month ago

Conservation means CONSERVATION! Right ridiculous what this guy done should of been locked up simple…

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