Man who tried jumping onto orca is given a fine many called a ‘joke’

A man who jumped into the water attempting to “body slam” or touch an orca was given the maximum fine possible for an infringement penalty in New Zealand, but some are calling the $600 amount a joke.

Video of the 50-year-old man leaping off a boat toward an orca and its calf was posted to Instagram in February, and someone who saw the clip tipped off the New Zealand Department of Conservation, which investigated the incident off the coast of Devonport.

“The man showed reckless disregard for his own safety—and that of the adult male orca with a calf swimming near the vessel,” the DOC stated in its Facebook post.

The man was tracked down and given a $600 infringement fine.

“600 dollars? What a joke,” one commenter wrote on the Facebook post. “Should have taken their boat.”

Many others agreed it was a joke.

“Is that all? $600?” another commenter wrote on the Facebook post.

The DOC attempted to explain why the fine was only $600, writing, “$600 is the maximum infringement penalty we can issue. Through prosecution, anyone successfully charged with harassing, disturbing, injuring or killing a marine mammal could face a maximum penalty of two years imprisonment or a fine to a maximum of $250,000.”

One commenter argued that “I’m pretty sure his action towards the orca solidly ticks the ‘disturbance’ and ‘harassing’ boxes! $600. What a joke.”

The DOC defended the fine, stating, “We did not pursue a conviction as there was no history of compliance issues with the individual and the incident did not appear to result in significant harm or disturbance to the orca involved.”

Hayden Loper, principal investigation officer at the DOC, said the video “left us genuinely stunned.”

“As well as the initial attempt to dive onto the animal, the man stays in the water and then swims toward it again in a second attempt to touch it,” Loper told The Standard.

“This is stupid behavior and demonstrates a shocking disregard for the welfare of the orca. It is extremely irresponsible.

“Orcas are immensely powerful animals, and this really could have ended horribly—with either the startled whale being injured, or the man responsible being harmed by the aggravated animal.”

Orcas are a protected species worldwide.

Story originally appeared on For The Win