Marine Biologist Faces 20 Years For Feeding Whales

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.”

Source: Yahoo

~Mark Esposito, Guest Blogger

35 thoughts on “Marine Biologist Faces 20 Years For Feeding Whales”

  1. What is the evidence against the defendant? Whale blubber. Videos of whale blubber. The prosecution does not have the actual whale blubber. Objection: Best evidence rule; Rule 1002 fed rules of evidence. Confrontation clause objection. Bring the whale into court not some hearsay of the whale. And while you are whaling about this offense please explain to the jury just what law was broken, are we talking some law of the sea which the U.S. does not recognize? Why dont we go after pirates off of Somalia when they are in internatinal waters? Inquiring minds in the Fifth Grade want to know.

    1. All excellent questions. If we only had some excellent answers.

      I did hear a report on NPR the other day.

      A Sommali official of some apparent authority explained that the idea of ships hiring armed guards and placing heavy weapons to protect themselves from the Sommali Pirates; Bad Idea says he.

      They should not be concerned about defending the ships. They should be worrying about helping to stabilize Sommalia so that they could then stop these Pirates.

      I have no comment that would not echoo your own.

  2. anon,
    While it is impossible to disagree that correct facts are important; they don’t alter the salient issue. So yes; a Dick for sure but I again must say that I understand the petty, needling satisfaction one can gain from such behavior. I believe it is usually the result of having no valid point of ones own to promote. It is rude to be sure; but no more so than when a small child loudly points out the large wart on his aunts chin.

    Apparently there is no evidence of a crime being committed. The video was apparently edited; a fact Nancy Black has admitted to. She was working with Federal Government personel; using what are from all accounts normal scientific procedures. From the statement of her attourney; she introduced no new food product but used only what was already there by moving it and tying it in place to better be able to carry out her assigned research for the US Government.

    As far as who she is. I would think and hope that her career and her reputation for animal care and her history of stellar work would give her testimony some added weight where no physical evidence to the contrary exists.

    While true that none of the facts about he and her permit prove that she did not break the law; it would seem to make it less likely;but not impossible, No.

    However; as the defendant here has admitted that the tape was edited; unless the prosecution can recreate the lost footage or has some other evidence as yet unrevieled; I don’t see that they have a case.

    From the article: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2083331/Marine-biologist-Nancy-Black-arrested-charges-abused-whales-feeding-them.html?ito=feeds-newsxml – I don’t see why they are even going to court with it. Of course as i have stated I am no lawyer.

    I would appreciate hearing the opinion of one should there be one in the house; Heh; Heh; Heh

    As far as the BP Gulf Spill and Lame Response. And their apalling attitude.

    I see no way that you can justify a twenty year sentence for Feeding a whale if you do not even attempt to prosecute a person who created such widspread and near purposeful pollution.

    They are admittedly two seperate crimes but assuming that all crimes are equal in importance and that we should prosecute each with equal zeal; we are then left to examine the details, results and motive for each crime.

    On the one hand we have the case of a respected Marine Biologist who; (we will assume guilt for the purpose of this comparison) in the proccess of performing research work for the Government; fed a whale inappropriately.
    There was no harm done to the environment or the whale in question. Her motive was to film the whales feeding for the purpose of her assigned project.

    On the other hand we have the case of a Multi-national Corporation who; through a lack of safety precautions and careless maintenace proceedures, along with an under-redundant system to begin with; cause untold death and destruction as well as an economic disaster for hundreds of thousands or millions of people. Extreme levels of pollution.
    The motive for this crime? Profit profit. Greed and Profit. And there initial response to the suggestion that they be in some way responsible for recompencing the people and helping to clean up the pollution
    “Of course our first consideration must be to our stockholders”

    Now you see here we are at the most Salient point of this entire discussion. I wasn’t sure until i got it all down on paper so to speak.

    In the beginning you were accused of; well to quote: “it appears you just wanted an excuse to be a dick out in public”.
    But here is my point. The fact that you actually did have something substancial to say means that you were just being a dick for no good reason. Ok; I don’t judge.
    But when your subtancial statement is anylised as I just di ; it is clear that you were not just being a dick; but were actually hiding a huge flaming Asshole behind that dick.

    To even suggest that we as a people should consider prosecuting this scientist and allow the hugely more serious crime committed by a souless, conscienceless corporation to go unpunished is not just ludicrous. It is twisted and and a betrayal of all that we are supposed to stand for.

    But as I say: I don’t judge.

  3. Mark,
    I think the article was not only interesting, but timely. I did understand your point.
    Blouisem,
    You are right. Equal justice under the law only works if you are wealthy or a corporation these days.

  4. I believe Roland Darby took mespo’s point and ran with it.

    And anon … hey, it wouldn’t be Sunday without a typical anon hangover rant.

    “Equal justice under the law” and the US Department of Justice … perhaps at one time that had an “apples to apples” validity but those days are long gone.

  5. Elaine,

    Now, now….BOA executives did have to get out from under the TARP regulations before they could get bonuses…That should count for something…ROFLOL….not really

  6. AY,

    Not just the mortgage scandal–but the whole financial crisis. These corporate criminals have their companies pay fines for their transgressions–yet they don’t have to admit any guilt for their fraudulent activities. They aren’t required to resign. They don’t get fired. And they keep getting huge salaries and obscene bonuses.

  7. Elaine,

    When Vital (you define) resources are at stake….money for prosecution is scarce….Then again…who’d thought that they would have one single criminal indictment arising out of the housing mortgage scandal…one state Attorney General did not sign on to it and they were removed from the investigation panel….all’s they the bad guys face are civil charges…

  8. Good principles applied in this post.

    “They” allow the enemies of the environment to destroy it on a massive scale, but will not allow a scientist to do what she knows to do, and knows how to do it without damaging the environment.

    “Pure”, unmitigated insanity on the part of the persecutor.

  9. anon,

    Mespo wrote:
    “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.”

    You wrote:
    “Fallacy of the excluded middle. That we did nothing to BP does not mean nothing should ever be done to anyone else.”

    *****

    Is that what Mespo was suggesting? Did you, perhaps, miss Mespo’s point about “equal justice under the law?”

    It seems odd to me that the DOJ would investigate this alleged crime of feeding whales–but not the war crimes of the Bush Administration.

  10. “anon: There is a corrections page for any typos you find, but it appears you just wanted an excuse to be a dick out in public.”

    Perhaps.

  11. AY, OS,

    Mespo got the story 10000% wrong factually.

    Wrong hemisphere.
    Wrong law.
    Wrong name.

    Mespo got the story 10000% wrong ethically.

    Being “renowned”, having a Ph.D, does not make you above the law.

    Mespo got the story 10000% wrong logically.

    Fallacy of the excluded middle. That we did nothing to BP does not mean nothing should ever be done to anyone else.

    Gedanken experiment: if this was not a renowned biologist, if this was just some schmo on his tourist fishing whale watching boat, would Mespo be writing about what a travesty these charges are?

    Or would he flip and take the other side?

  12. OS/AY:

    Thanks guys but I’ll take criticism from anyone. I mean absolutely anyone. It’s especially galling when they’re right. 😀

  13. Some people do not need an excuse or reason to be a prick…or a b….

  14. anon: There is a corrections page for any typos you find, but it appears you just wanted an excuse to be a dick out in public.

  15. anon,

    The correction page awaits your noted disputes….corrections…Unless you are just venting because you have nothing substantive to say…Now that is a different story…

  16. What a stupid, illogical, totally incorrect, article.

    Just how shit faced are you Mark Esposito? Are you always this drunk when writing your briefs?

    It’s not Mary Black, it’s Nancy Black.

    It’s not the Maine Mammal Protection Act, it’s the Marine Mammal Protection Act.

    This didn’t happen on the East Coast, it happened on the West Coast.

    That she had a Federal Permit does not mean she could not have broken the law.

    That she is a marine biologist does not mean she could not have broken the law.

    That she is renowned does not mean she could not have broken the law.

    That no one from BP has gone to jail does not mean she could not have broken the law.

    That BP destroyed the gulf and got away with it does not undermine why we have the Marine Mammal Protection Act.

    More stupidity from the Turley Guest Bloggers.

  17. Mark,

    These things fall into two categories…things that make you money and those that cost you money….the second is dispensable…

    You entire article is well accepted here…

Comments are closed.