Have you ever been close to nature? Like going on a hike, snorkeling, or even going to a zoo, or you may have even paid for a tourist experience of some sort.
All examples I have mentioned are done of your own free will and don’t cost a dime. But there are some experiences that might cost you a bit too much.
Scuba diving must be one of the most interesting activities or hobbies one could have. Imagine diving deep and just feeling the weightlessness of being in the ocean. And as divers often tell people, scuba diving is one of the most freeing sensations in the world.
One lucky, or unlucky as we dive more into this story, scuba diver had one rare experience of a lifetime as he got to swim with a pod of killer whales in British Columbia, Canada.
An experience that cost him 12,000 Canadian dollars, which is $8,745 USD as of writing this.
The diver didn’t pay for the diving experience per se. According to Canadian Regulations, vessels are required to maintain a minimum approach distance of 400 meters (about 1,300 feet) from all killer whales in all of southern B.C. coastal waters, or 200 meters (656 feet) from all killer whales in other B.C. waters. This rule applies to all vessels, motorized or not.
Thomas Gould, the diver who was fined, was found to have “knowingly interacted” with the pod of Northern resident killer whales back in April 2020, reported the Department of Fisheries and Oceans Canada. And a judge handling the case just handed down the largest fine ever recorded for this kind of offense.
As stated by Canada’s DFO, the particular pod of orcas that Gould interacted with has been returning to the area annually for at least 10 years now, and warning signs have been put up for boaters to be careful and keep some distance from the pod.
Gould, unclear if he was aware of the signs, was found to have deliberately monitored and followed the pod several times and, dressed in full dive gear, entered the water close to the orcas two times. All acts are against the law.
Besides having a minimum approach distance, there is a law that prohibits divers from disturbing, swimming with, feeding, or even touching any marine wildlife. These guidelines are made for the protection of both marine wildlife and for people. A sign should be sufficient enough to deter adventure seekers from doing anything that may disturb nature.
“Watching whales and other marine mammals in their natural surroundings gives Canadians an opportunity to better appreciate these beautiful animals, but when humans get too close, we risk disturbing and even harming them,” the Department of Fisheries and Oceans Canada said.
The DFO doesn’t hold back when it comes to its guidelines. The massive fine served to Gould could be seen as a warning for some and a reminder to all that the authorities are just ensuring the safety of the orcas.
Find out more about the incident in the video below.