US authorities have fined two people for allegedly flying drones too close to a pod of orcas in Washington state.
In what could well be the first case of its kind, the pair have been prosecuted after capturing footage of the ocras in the Haro Strait, just east of Vancouver Island, Canada.
The U.S. Department of Fisheries and Oceans say the pair’s drones were within nine metres of the whales when the regulation requires all vessels should be at least approximately 183 metres back. One of the operators has been ordered to pay $1000.
Canadian authorities have also backed the fine, believing the drones posed a danger to orcas, emitting disturbing levels of noise, and potential injury if a drone should fall from the sky onto the pod.
The popularity of using drones to get close-up footage of whales and dolphins has increased in recent years, but it is not clear yet what effect they have on these creatures.