Last week, a man in southeast Alaska pleaded guilty to violating the Endangered Species Act (ESA) by twice intentionally ramming the boat he was operating into humpback whales, a listed species under the Act. Federal prosecutors charged Kevin Carle with “knowingly harassing, pursuing and harming whales,” a violation that resulted in two years of probation and a $1,025 fine, reports the Juneau Empire. Carle is now required to participate in an ESA Awareness program and must notify a probation officer if hired as a boat operator.
While in both instances Carle intentionally veered off-course and drove his boat directly toward the humpback whales, inadvertent “ship strikes,” as they are called, are not uncommon. In fact, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration reports that ship strikes with large whales in Alaska appear to be increasing, which may be a result of an increasing population of humpback whales in the North Pacific.