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Orca incident may bring prosecutions

Last updated 05:00 27/03/2014
Marion van Dijk
WHALE WARNING: Seeing an orca is a thrilling experience but DOC is warning people to keep their distance.

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DOC may prosecute boaties who got too close for comfort to a pod of orca.

Long Bay's Okura Marine Reserve Department of Conservation ranger James Gardiner says about eight boats, jet skis and paddleboards got close to the killer whales earlier this year.

DOC ranger Stephanie Watts won't reveal more details about one particular incident until an investigation is concluded.

But she says it is a "timely reminder" for watergoers to keep a safe distance from the animals.

The five-strong pod spotted at Long Bay which included a calf, were hunting stingrays in the shallows, she says. Noisy boats getting too close to marine mammals like orca can disrupt their feeding patterns and also run the risk of boat or propeller strike.

The Marine Mammal Protection Act says people should keep at least 200 metres away from any marine mammals with calves.

Under the act, swimming with orca, dolphins or whales with calves is not permitted either.

Punishment for committing offences under the act can be as high as six months imprisonment or $250,000 fines.

Call 0800 362 468 to report sightings of marine mammals or incidents of harassment.

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- North Shore Times

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