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Woman nets fine for petting killer whale

22nd May 2003

Planet Ark


VANCOUVER, British Columbia

A Canadian woman has been fined C$100 (43) after she admitted petting a wild killer whale that biologists are struggling to keep from getting too friendly with humans.

The young male orca whale, L98, has been living alone on the waters of Nootka Sound on western Vancouver Island since the summer of 2001 after he became separated from his family pod that normally spends the summer off Washington state.

Sandra Bohn admitted she ignored warnings, including a large sign at the dock in Gold River, British Columbia, that told residents of the area it was illegal to feed or touch the killer whale -- which often seeks out human attention.

Scientists are worried that L98 is lonely, but say if he becomes too attached to humans he will lose interest in other orcas or be rejected by his family pod if he tries to return to them.

"Physical contact with L98, including touching, petting and rubbing his body have a range of potentially serious consequences for this whale's future well-being," said John Ford, a whale expert with Fisheries and Oceans Canada.



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