The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration issued a humpback whales warning for New York and Connecticut, urging boaters to watch out for the marine mammals and use caution around their feeding areas.
The boaters are advised to keep a 100 feet distance from the animals. In case the whales approach the boat, the boaters should put the engine in neutral mode until the animal had passed safely.
The marine mammals had been seen three times last week in Greenwich, New Rochelle, and Norwalk. They are supposed to be feeding on the small fish close to the shore.
The humpback whales create clouds of bubbles to confuse their prey, and then they launch through the center to catch all the fish. When a boater or fisherman is caught inside the bubble, they risk colliding with the animal as it approaches the surface very fast.
Aside from being a danger for the boat and the people on them, the collision can also injure the animal. The marine biologists warn that even if it would be fascinating to see a whale up-close, the thrill seekers should refrain because they are putting themselves and the animal at risk.
Moreover, harassing the mammal can make it stop feeding.
“These animals have a particular energy budget. They have to do all of their calorie banking at a specific time of year. They are traveling on less than a full tank and if they are expending energy getting around an irritant, it can be a problem,” said Mary Jane Schramm, marine biologist.
The officials warn that the humpback whales are protected by the government. Visitors and coastal residents should not get too close to the mammals because they could harm them and dismay them into leaving the area.
However, the social media began to display several recordings of humpback whale encounters, such as the one of a lady paddling just three feet away from the animal.
The Marine Mammal Protection Act was issued in 1972 because the human interaction with the marine animals resulted in a decrease of their population. The conservative law was the first in the world to protect the ecosystem as a whole and not just a single species.
The penalty for harassing marine mammals goes from $10,000 in a civil penalty. Criminal prosecution can end up with one year in jail and a $100,000 fine.
The animals are also protected by the federal Endangered Species Act and through marine sanctuary regulations. The humpback whales warning aims to keep both the humans and the animals safe.
Image Source: Wikipedia