By Mark Esposito, Guest Blogger
Renowned marine biologist Nancy Black faces 20 years in prison and a half million dollars in fines for allegedly unlawfully feeding killer whales. And no,she didn’t feed them people. Apparently,Black, who’s been featured on PBS, Animal Planet, and National Geographic has been charged with running afoul of the Marine Mammal Protection Act. The charges stem from a 2005 research trip in which Black filmed a gray humpback whale and a pack of killer whales swimming nearby. She’s accused of feeding the killer whales and then altering a video of the “crime.” Here’s her lawyer’s account of the heinous attack on the environment.
“She was out whale-watching with a full complement of passengers and spotted a humpback whale. It was a friendly whale, which loves to come up close to a boat and breach and frolic,” said Black’s attorney Lawrence Biegel. “There’s video of this, which she turned over, of this whale doing exactly that, literally going from one side of the boat to another.”
Biegel says the killer whales were feeding off of gray whale blubber already in the ocean. “In the specific incident in question, Ms. Black used an underwater camera and filmed the eating habits of killer whales who were feeding off free-floating pieces of blubber from a gray whale that had been killed by a pack of killer whales.”
The trip is under scrutiny from state authorities, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, and the US Department of Justice. No word yet on whether the Boy Scouts or Sheriff Taylor from Mayberry have gotten involved.
Black is a former NOAA employee with an undisputed love for the environment and particularly whales. She hosts popular whale watching tours for students and environmentalists under the auspices of the Monterey (Calif.) Bay Whale Watch Tours.
Oh, by the way, she had a federally issued permit for the research trip in 2005.
When you consider not a single person from British Petroleum spent a day in the pokey or was even charged for the 2010 environmental meltdown that occurred in the Gulf of Mexico after the oil derrick disaster, you have to wonder about the notion of “equal justice under law,” and just who sets priorities for the publicly appointed guardians of the eco-system.
But then again our defendant’s last name is not BP, Halibuton, or Transocean. According to the government it’s just “Black.”
~Mark Esposito, Guest Blogger