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Boater speeds into Vancouver orca pod as onlookers scream to slow down, video shows

Speedboat barrels through killer whale pod near Vancouver, B.C.

Video posted on Facebook by Antonio Hurtado Coll shows a boat speeding over a pod of killer whales surfacing in water near Stanley Park in Vancouver, BC. Onlookers screamed for the boater to slow down. Orcas can be killed if hit by marine vessels.
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Video posted on Facebook by Antonio Hurtado Coll shows a boat speeding over a pod of killer whales surfacing in water near Stanley Park in Vancouver, BC. Onlookers screamed for the boater to slow down. Orcas can be killed if hit by marine vessels.

Other boats shut off their engines, sat patiently and enjoyed the show on Saturday as an orca pod surfaced in waters off Vancouver, British Columbia.

But not this speedboat: Video posted on Facebook over the weekend shows a boater zooming full-throttle through the group of killer whales near Stanley Park in the Canadian city.

It was shocking to see this guy not stopping,” said Antonio Hurtado Coll, who captured and posted footage of the incident online, CTV News reports. “I like to think he was just oblivious to their presence.”

Boaters and other bystanders yelled at the speedboat to slow down for the whale pod, but it didn’t work, Q13 Fox reports.

Law requires boaters in British Columbia to turn off their engines and give orcas a berth of 200 meters, or about 650 feet — and in critical killer whale habitat in the southern part of the province, new rules require boaters to give killer whales twice that much space, according to Canada’s Department of Fisheries and Oceans.

Department of Fisheries and Oceans officials said they were aware of the incident, CTV reports.

“You have to give room to the orcas, right?” Hurtado Coll said, according to the CBC. “It’s just not acceptable not to stop.”

The orca pod apparently survived the boat encounter unhurt, Global News reports.

Andrew Trites, the Marine Mammal Research Unit director for the University of British Columbia’s Institute for the Oceans and Fisheries, called the video “disturbing” and said boat strikes are among the top killers of orcas worldwide, the CBC reports.

NOAA Fisheries biologists talk about southern resident killer whales, a species that makes its home around the San Juan Islands in Washington state.

“I just don’t understand it,” Trites said, according to the CBC. “What this person did is dangerous and reckless. It puts whales at risk and it should never happen.”

Breaking the regulations on keeping a safe distance from orcas can result in a fine of up to $500,000, CTV reports.

“Whales can also be unpredictable and it doesn’t appear the boat driver paid any heed or had any concern for those whales,” Trites said, according to CTV. “Both can end up being casualties.”

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Jared Gilmour is a McClatchy national reporter based in San Francisco. He covers everything from health and science to politics and crime. He studied journalism at Northwestern University and grew up in North Dakota.
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