Published on : Wednesday, December 27, 2017
The study by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration indicated that whale-watching tourism continues to grow in spite of the federal restrictions that require vessels to stay at least 200 yards (182 meters) from the orcas in Washington’s Puget Sound.
Insufficient food, environmental pollution and noise from boats are the primary threats to the survival of Puget Sound orcas. The population of southern resident whales is down to 76, which is the lowest in 30 years.
Noise from boats can disturb orcas, causing them to spend less time looking for food and more time traveling, according to researchers.
Around 400,000 people take commercial tour boats for whale watching each year, said Michael Harris, former executive director of the Pacific Whale Watch Association.
Washington Sen. Kevin Ranker said that he aims to introduce legislation to fund an enforcement boat and two state Department of Fish and Wildlife officers to be on the water five days a week during peak whale-watching season. The Democratic senator said in order to protect whale watching, it requires protecting the whales.
“We have to protect the orca whale from our stupidity,” Ranker said.