I must agree with Op-Ed author Ken Balcomb that the laws to protect orcas do nothing to address the real problem. RCW 77.15.740 does not protect the orcas but will cause innocent boaters to be fined for being within 300 yards of a southern resident killer whale. There is no way I could see an orca at 300 yards on a gray day with a one foot chop.
Orcas are curious animals. Sometimes they swim up to boats, and there is nothing a boater can do except shut down the motor. My latest encounter with orcas was on a small-boat cruise in June. Three transient orcas swam through our fleet. I did not see them until I was within 25 yards and another boat pointed them out. We were not in violation of the law because they were not southern residents.
Fining boaters $500 every time they are within 300 yards of a southern resident killer whale does nothing for their survival. If they want to enforce this law, they better inform the orcas that they must stay 300 yards away from boats.
Bob Holley, Seattle