Coast Guard responds to vessel breaching whale exclusion zone

Pacific Northwest Coast Guard NewsSEATTLE — The Coast Guard responded to a vessel breaching the 200-yard exclusion zone for whales near Orcas Island, Wash., Wednesday

Coast Guard Sector Puget Sound received a report from a witness claiming a 25-foot pleasure craft was within the 200-yard exclusion zone around a group of orcas near Orcas Island at approximately 5 p.m.

The crew of the Coast Guard Cuttyhunk was notified and responded to the scene where they found the vessel still within the exclusion zone approximately 20 minutes later. A boarding team was launched from the Cuttyhunk to inform the boat owner that they were too close to the whales. They also conducted a safety boarding of the vessel, and Coast Guard officials notified NOAA of the zone breach.

NOAA, which controls regulations dealing with marine wildlife, issued new rules concerning killer whales in April 2011 and may choose to fine the boater for breaching the exclusion zone.

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