Australian surfers break law by swimming with whale
A whale off the coast of Sydney, Australia, attracted a lot of attention from surfers Sunday -- and they are getting backlash for their apparently illegal activities. Some media outlets portrayed the encounter as a friendly one. ABC reports, "This 40-foot whale was sharing the water with surfers. It seemed to be in a playful mood, swishing its tail, telling the surfers, 'Dude, there's great swells 15 feet down.'"
Whale tail splashing
But not everyone thought the surfers and the whale were playmates. CBS News reports, "Some are accusing the surfers of harassment. They broke the law by getting so close."
We found a similar sentiment from a Freshwater resident who spoke to The Sydney Morning Herald: "To be honest they were harassing it a bit. They were so close and it had no room to move." The resident adds, "If I was the fish I'd be harassed too."
According to local laws in New South Wales, where Sydney is located, vessels must stay as far as 100 meters away from a whale in the water, which is about 328 feet.
Vessels are defined as "watercraft that can be used as transport, including motorised or non-motorised boats, surfboards, surf skis and kayaks."
According to ITV, a coast guard boat appeared at the scene as the surfers were paddling away.
Several media outlets quote a government spokesman who says the whale "was probably a pregnant female looking for a safe, calm area to calve or a young male exploring."