Subject: Whale Harassment Fine

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Mon, 3 Jun 1994 14:22:52

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Subject: Whale Harassment Fine
 
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Subj:	U/W Videographer Fined For Har
 
Date:         Fri, 3 Jun 1994 11:01:03 PDT
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Subject:      U/W Videographer Fined For Har
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----------------------------Original message----------------------------
U/W Videographer Fined For Harassing Whales
By Betse Hymphrey
Underwater USA Volume 11, Number 2, June 1994 page 52
 
   An underwater photographer was fined $10,000 for harassing pilot whales
off Hawaii in May, 1991. The entire incident was captured on video by the
photographer when one of the whales attacked his assistant. The fine was
the maximum amount allowed by law.
 
   "In 1991, Tepley and his assistant took off in a raft to photograph
pilot whales in Hawaii," says Scott Smullen, of the National Ocean and
Atmospheric Administration Public Affairs office. "They chased the whales
for awhile, then got into the water with them. While petting them, one of
the whales grabbed his assistant by the leg and dragged her underwater,
then returned her to the surface."
 
   Tepley videotaped the incident and then sold it to the television
program "I Witness Video" for $5,000. In it, Lisa Costello was bit in the
thigh and dragged 40 feet underwater by one of the pilot whales.
 
   Federal Administrative Law Judge Hugh J. Dolan ruled that Lee Tepley
"committed an egregious violation of the federal Marine Mammal Protection
Act when he deliberately chased and allowed another person to swim with and
pet pilot whales off Hawaii."
 
   The judge noted that the valuable public function served by underwater
photography cannot excuse or justify this type of deliberate violation of
the Marine Mammal Protection Act.
 
   "This case is a perfect example that whales and other marine mammals
should be respected and admired from a distance in the wild," says Dr. Gary
Matlock, Actine Regional Director, southwest Region, of the National Marine
Fisheries Service.
 
   "The incident was unfortunate and nearly resulted in tragedy. NMFS is
pleased that there will be accountability for this serious misconduct."
 
   After hearing expert testimony from Dr. Sam Ridgway, a senior scientist
for animal care with the U.S. Navy, Judge Dolan found that Tepley had
interrupted the whales' normal behavior and harassed them by pursuing them
with his boat. The harassment continued when Tepley's assistant, Lisa
Costello, entered the water.
 
   "The whale's behavior in dragging Costello below the surface was
indicative of a whale disciplining its young," Dolan says in his ruling.
Clearly, the whales did not want the human's continued presence in their
environment, and acted out against the human who was the most annoying."