‘High probability’ of disturbing whales in Discovery Passage enough to convict boater
Source: Kristen Douglas, Campbell River Mirror
A boater charged with harassing a group of orca whales two years ago was found guilty on two charges in Campbell River provincial court Aug. 7.
Carl Eric Peterson was found guilty by Judge Brian Saunderson of unlawfully disturbing a marine mammal while not fishing and of unlawfully harassing a threatened wildlife species.
The incident occurred on Oct. 3, 2010 in Discovery Passage between Quadra Island and Campbell River. Peterson was operating a power boat in the vicinity of a group of orcas, or killer whales, when eyewitness Fishery Officer Carlos Paramio said two orcas surfaced about 60 metres in front of Peterson’s boat.
Paramio told the court during Peterson’s two-day trial Jan. 11-12, 2012, that Peterson accelerated towards the pair of whales. The orcas dove as Peterson’s boat got closer, and then slowed down. Paramio said he saw Peterson approach four or five times, with the boat getting closer each time.
He said the last time, the boat was 15-25 metres behind the whales “and at that point the vessel did a quick U-turn and immediately went into planing speed and left the area.”
Shortly after, Peterson was stopped by Paramio and accompanying fishery officer Greg Askey.
Askey, who was driving the officers’ patrol boat, corroborated Paramio’s testimony and said he saw Peterson motor in and out among as many as four whales.
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